Migration remains a bit of a concern with everything late, and/or in low numbers. Since my last post I have seen a handful of swallows, a few cuckoos and blackcaps and the occasional house martin. Although numbers of wheatears, willow warblers and chiffchaffs have slowly risen, they are still scarce on the ground and I have yet to find a single spotted flycatcher, redstart, sedge warbler, winchat or grasshopper warbler- they can't be too far away now- surely?
A recent twitch to Moray for a couple of Avocets turned into a horrible dip- the news came out late as usual for that part of the world, as although there are plenty of good birders in Moray there do not appear to be any subscribers to the bird news services and so good birds are usually just put on the local website. Although subsequently picked up by the news services, this often results in the birders nightmare of getting news of much sought after birds 4 or 5 hours too late to twitch them successfully! An Avocet in Scotland is almost a mega!! Anyway, moving swiftly on, I successfully twitched the marvellous Snowy owl on the Black Isle. The bird looked good to be a genuine vagrant- recent Northerly and North-easterly winds, the bird was in great condition with clean unworn primaries and tail feathers, photographs showed the feet to be pristine, no leg rings and so the general concensus in the field was that it was a wild bird. Following the happy, near 80 mile journey home I was just going through the motions of updating my BUBO Scottish/Highland life lists when news broke that it was an escape- from the Black isle wildlife park. Grrrrrrrrrrr. I make no secret of my distaste for keeping birds in aviaries - especially raptors, so I'm glad it escaped, hope it survives and continues to head north! (last seen at Tarbet Ness yesterday).
So it was with much relief that I successfully twitched the wonderful Kentish Plover at Dornoch- yet another great find by dedicated patch birder Dean Macaskill. A nervy couple of hours working the beach finally paid off when we saw some other birders scrutinising the piles of seaweed high up near the dunes. The area held a number of ringed plover and dunlin and eventually we got onto the very cryptic K.P. I couldn't get closer than 50 or 60 metres for fear of harassing and flushing the bird so got some record shots from the dune system. The photos do not really do it justice as through the scope it was a gem of a bird. The bird of my year so far and a welcome addition to my life list! Hopefully the spring will turn up a few more twitchable rares!