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Saturday, 17 April 2010

Scotland Trip - Day 3 (CaperWatch, DolphinWatch and MartenWatch)

Monday 12th April 2010
Claire & Laura turned down the opportunity to return to Loch Garten at 5:30 am, so it was left to Cath and the guys to turn up again in the dark. No repeat of the previous day though, a male Capercaillie was on display almost immediately, and although views were distant, it was still a cracking bird. After an hour or so, we left to try Tulloch Moor for Blackcock. Proving that it’s a small world, Ashley was there with his Oriole Birding tour. They had yet to pick up any Black Grouse, but with impudent newly-arrived birder luck I was straight onto one, and we were soon all watching a pristine display of grousing. On the way back to the lodge we stopped at a misty Loch Morlich, picking up two summer plumage Red-throated Divers. We also saw a putative Scotsbill, but more on that later

Capercaillie at Loch Garten. Very hard to digiscope, I may have cheated slightly ;-)
Black Grouse at Tulloch Moor
.We had a short stop near Nairn to scan a field of Pink-footed Geese for Snow Geese (explained by Gary as “three Snow Geese west of Narnia!”) but they had obviously heard we were coming. At Chanonnry Point we took a boat out to search for Dolphins, which had obviously been tipped off by the Snow Geese. A scan of Udale Bay added a few birds to our trip list, but unfortunately the Canada Goose in with the Pink-feet was a Greater.

Following our Findhorn dip, we decided to have a go at one of Gary’s eagle sites, at Glen Cannich. Stopping at the bottom of the valley, two Golden Eagles soared up above the mountain top, before one went over it and the other perched on top. For a while we watched the huge silhouette, before it glided downwards showing off the golden head. It then spiralled up and was lost in the clouds. Eagle number one sorted. We had a customary look around Loch Ness (Cath suggested reports of the Loch Ness monster may refer to Great Northern Divers) before tea at the Boat Hotel in Boat of Garten.
In the evening we had booked places in Speyside Wildlife’s Pine Marten hide. Having obeyed all of the rules (dark clothes, no strong smells, no rustling clothes, pass a ninja stealth course) it was a pleasant surprise to find that our guide, Alan, was actually a rather extroverted cheery chappy. As we waited we saw Woodcock, Pipistrelle Bat and another Osprey. In the hide we got crippling views of two Pine Martens and two Badgers. I even got pictures of the marten, I highly recommend a trip here.

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