Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Scotland birding trip: Harlequin Duck!

Day Two: Friday 3rd April

Looking at the weather forecast for today didn't feel us with any real optimism.
Nevertheless we set off for Loch Garten and the 5.30am Caper Watch. Throughout the two and a half hours there wasn't a hint of any Capers showing. 
The good news was the return of the female Osprey "EJ" to Loch Garten. She had arrived at 5pm the previous evening. During a brief spell outside the hide I did manage views of a Red Squirrel which was coming down to a feeder.

The reserve only opens from 5.30am-8am and then closes again until 10am. So we returned to the car park and parked up by the feeder at the far end of the car park, and were eventually rewarded with views of Crested tit.

Crested Tit

The weather hadn't improved, but news came through that the Harlequin Duck had reappeared again after going missing all day yesterday.
So we decided to head East across the Highlands to Aberdeen. Most of the journey was along the A95 and A96. The journey was slow and the weather wasn't improving, if anything it was getting worse!
We arrived around midday and after struggling to find the exact location we pulled into Seaton Park car park. From here we headed towards the old toilet block and the River Don. We headed upstream and after some 400 yards found the Harlequin Duck resting up close to the far bank. Shortly afterwards it decided to fly downstream in the presence of a Goosander. 
It landed among the rapids close to the toilet block and slowly drifted back downstream. The weather was getting worse, and drizzle turned to heavy rain. I grabbed a few record shots and then returned to enjoying this "Mega" bird from Iceland and a welcome addition to my life list.

Harlequin Duck

Heavy rain forced us to retreat to the comfort of the car and we decided to head up to Portsoy in search of Divers.
On arrival the rain was at last showing signs of easing off, but after parking up in the harbour we scanned the sea from the nearest clifftop without any sign of any White-billed Divers. We did find several Great Northern Divers and a nice raft of Long-tailed Ducks.
Moving to higher ground and after another two hour scan, Brian eventually found two of the three reported White-billed Divers.
On the return journey towards Fort William we again had views of  Black Grouse and shortly afterwards found a pair of Goldeneye on a small pool beside the road

Black Grouse


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