Thursday, 3 April 2014

Scotland Birding Trip: Black Duck fails to show

Sunday 30th March: Day 3

Another dawn start, and with the Corran Ferry not crossing until 8.30am, we take the long scenic way round and a drive along these narrow single track roads produces plenty of close views of Common Buzzard.

Common Buzzard

 The first year tick of the day comes in the form of a single Greenshank, which is found among numerous Oystercatchers, Lapwing and Greylag Gesse.
Eventually we reached Strontian and began another search for the Black Duck. A scan of the bay failed to deliver so it was back to the car and a drive up river. A search along the river and also the small ponds in the gardens failed to locate the duck.
The village shop and cafe informed us that the duck had recently started sitting up on the crofts about a half mile further along the Loch.
We drove round, parked up and took the downhill path towards the beach. Having reached the beach and after another search it again failed to deliver any sight of the target bird.
At this point we decided to head off towards the Ardnamurchan Lighthouse.
On route plenty of Redwing and Fieldfares are found close to the roadside busy feeding up inside the hotel grounds.
Having passed Sallachan point we passed a field of sheep and noticed one entangled in the fence.
Not wanting to drive passed without trying to let somebody know, We took the next right turn to the nearest farmhouse. Where we found the only person at home was a 90 year old guy who wasn't in the best of health.
The only thing to do was help him in the car and drive him down to where the sheep was trapped.
Having helped him pull the sheep from the fence the sheep just lay on the ground in front of us motionless. After another  5 minutes the sheep finally recovered and joined the rest of the flock. relief all round!
All that was left to do was repair the fence and drive the guy back to the farmhouse. Good deed done for the day.
A stop at Ben Hiant produced A hunting Common Buzzard, Meadow Pipits, Yellowhammer and a single Black-throated Diver in the bay below.
Moving on we made a brief stop and search of the fields around the Kilchoan ferry crossing, rewarding us with great views of a flock of Twite.


The short grass fields just before the traffic lights approaching the car park to the lighthouse looked ideal for Wheatear, and a scan delivers double figures of this species. Unfortunately the males were staying out of range of my camera.


A single Whinchat sitting up on a roadside fence adds another year tick, and there's a showy Stonechat close by as well.
A brief seawatch from the lighthouse was a disappointment with only a single seal and several gulls found. An appearance of a Rock Pipit sitting up on a rock was all to brief.
The drive back on the single track roads produces the bird of the day. A ringtail Hen harrier is watched hunting low across the moors giving fantastic views as it drifts past.

Hen Harrier 

Taking the shorter route back towards Fort William,  gave us views of Red Deer, Eider and Red-breasted Mergansers.

Back in Fort William and after being fed and watered in was an early night ready for the final day in Scotland.

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