With the major crash in Oil prices, exploration survey work is at an all time low so I have not had any pelagic birding work for some months. Instead of moping about at home I have decided to use my time and savings to catch up with some new birds for my Scottish list. Financial constraints have meant greater use of hostels and buses that although sometimes inconvenient, have still allowed me to get a few ticks. Following several dips over the past few years I finally got to see a cracking bittern at Montrose basin. The bird kept me waiting for 30 minutes or so but it was well worth the wait when it eventually flew past the hide. The memory of a major dip after sitting in a hide for 3 days at Kinnordy loch last year were almost forgotten!
|Bittern, Montrose basin.|
Five days later I successfully twitched an Avocet on the Kyle of Tongue and also grabbed a self-found Great grey shrike near Laxford bridge on the way up. Although I have seen a few GGS in Scotland before it always feels good to find your own birds!
|Avocet, Kyle of Tongue.|
|Great grey shrike, Laxford bridge.|
Following reports of marsh tit on bird track I managed to get some specific site details from a good birding friend in lothian. As this bird is so rare in Scotland there was a fair bit of interest in a cost sharing twitch, so I headed down with two other Highland birders and successfully saw two birds. A report of Caspian gulls near Torness meant that we also got to find a 1st winter bird near Dunbar land fill site so amazingly I got two Scottish ticks in one day!
The Northern Harrier on North Ronaldsay proved difficult and took two trips and nine days of effort including the travel days. We finally got the bird at last light on our 4th 'field day' By then, seeing the bird resulted in feelings of relief rather than excitement for this recent addition to the British list. The next day we scoped the bird for over 40 minutes as it sat in the rain and although always distant it was a very good bird to catch up with.
|Northern harrier, North Ron.|
Aside from new 'ticks' it was also good to get self-found common crane and smew in addition to great views of lots of commoner species. A great birding month!
|Common crane, North Ron.|