Scotland Trip – Day 2 – 31/iii/15

My Dad had arrived late the previous evening, and we were both keen to get out birding. We headed out along the valley to Insh Marshes in cold snowy conditions, and were rewarded with good views of Whooper Swans as well as a distant flock of about 300 Pink-Footed Geese. A single male Goldeneye was present as well as a couple of Teal and Wigeon.

On the way back, we stopped in at Broomhill train station car park, where we saw another flock of Pink-Footed Geese. Scanning through the flock also produced a few probable Icelandic Greylag Geese.

After a quick bite to eat, we headed north up the A9 towards Inverness. We arrived at Alturlie Point, in cold and windy conditions, and birding was limited to the gaps between the heavy showers. There were good numbers of Hooded Crows in the fields around, as well as an abundance of hybrids. On the sea, there were about 20 Long-Tailed Ducks at distance as well as a couple of Eider and a summer plumage Black-Throated Diver. I picked out a group of 18 Scaup (9 males and 9 females) which were quite close in, and we enjoyed reasonable views of the birds.

As another shower came sweeping in, we got back in the car and began to scan the gulls on the shore.  After a little while, Dad noticed a very pale white-winged gull partially hidden by a rock. It eventually moved into the open, and we were able to identify it as a 2nd-winter Iceland Gull! The bird was quite distant, but I did manage a dodgy record shot.

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As we left, a Red Kite flew low past the car. It had green wing tags, but we were unable to read the white lettering. This was presumably a bird from the Black Isle where there have been release schemes in recent years.

A quick stop further along the coast produced distant views of Razorbill and Guillemot, and a large flock (over 1000 strong) of Pink-Footed Geese in the fields nearby.

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We arrived back in time to visit the gull roost at Loch Garten as darkness was falling. We managed to get distant views of the two Iceland Gulls which had been reported (A 1st-winter and a 2nd-winter). The snow then sit in for good, so we called it a day and headed home.

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