Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Birding in Scotland Pt 1

Spending a couple of weeks birding , sightseeing and general travelling-tourist stuff in Scotland. We began on the Isle of Bute, arriving on Tuesday 22nd April to grim greyness...it was none too promising. A quick visit to the tourist information centre didn't improve my initial impressions! The 'Isle of e iscovery centre' looked jaded, faded and aged. Make an effort and fix the signage! Still half a dozen Black Guillemot on the crossing from Wemyss Bay were nice.

Isle of e iscovery centre!!
Top marks for the fantastic, Harry Potter type Victorian toilet next to the ferry port. The only thing missing in there was a 'Moaning Mytle'. I can't recommend this loo enough although you need to be careful taking photographs; best wait until it's empty!

Fantastic Victorian Loo on Bute
A couple of days birding, doing the sights (Mount Stewart is well worth the time and cost of a visit) and general bumbling about produced just over 70 species. Eiders in the bays were in mating mood and it was common to see over half a dozen males trying to impress a single female as in the shot below.Fighting, chasing and the Frankie Howard 'oooo...oooo' adding to the spectacle.
Drake Eiders courting a female

Meadow Pipit
Meadow Pipits and Oystercatchers were the most frequently encountered species along with Northern Wheatears and the ubiquitous Herring Gulls.


There were good numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers on the sea and Common Sandpipers had arrived in numbers and were frequent along most of the coast in suitable habitat.

Red-breasted Merganser off to Islay!
 Plenty of Rock Pipits but the biggest surprise was the number of singing Willow Warblers. They seemed to be just about everywhere unlike further south in England where it seems that they are in a state of decline. Why these birds fly over suitable breeding and feeding habitat that is not already held by other Willow Warblers I do not know!
Rock Pipit
 Off to Skye next for White-tailed and Golden Eagles ...and whisky from the Talisker distillery. The best whisky in the world from the best placed distillery in the world!

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