Blog – 2018

Birding Ecosse Blogspot

Welcome to the Birding Ecosse blog, if it is your first visit then thank you very much for dropping in, if you were a regular to my old blog then thank you for updating your bookmarks!

This blog will follow all my trips and tours, so if you have been out with me recently the chances are very high you will make an appearance! Most of the pictures on the blog are my own, however if I do use a third parties  pictures I will have obtained their permission and will give them full credit.

It is designed to be a light hearted read to show how and where Birding Ecosse operates, so if you are thinking of booking a tour check out the Blog and then read through the Testimonials and you should get a flavour of what to expect! Great Birds, Great Scenery with Coffee and biscuits thrown in!  Please note: All  birds will have been viewed in a safe and environmentally accepted way, that is to say by using public access at all times or by the use of hides specifically erected for the observation of this species and by keeping at a  safe distance and viewing through telescopes. Remember you can keep in touch via Facebook at or twitter @birdingecosse

Did you know Birding Ecosse produces a newsletter?  Get up to date news and offers first if you subscribe to    The newsletter is a lighthearted look at what has happened the previous months, full of Pictures and information (many  that are not published on this blog page) of places we have visited, our mid month “Planned trips” mailing gives an update of all remaing spaces available on tours.

Call in and give it a glance, hopefully you will like it 🙂

Wednesday 14 March 2018

Well after seven years my flyers have finally had a face lift, and I’m very pleased with the results, great effort from Zoe at Smile Design, fast and efficient service.

Business cards only change was the Trip Advisor logo added, but once again a really nice design and proud to hand these out to potential victims!

Next arrivals over the next couple of days will be my new updated Andalucía Checklists and Split new merchandise for sale!  Yes for sale, so if you ever fancied owing a Birding Ecosse mug, polo shirt, fleece, Hoodie, Beanie Hat or Sweatshirt then stay tuned and watch this web page!

Wednesday 14 February 2018

Happy Valentines day! And what better way to treat my wife other than leaving her to have the house to herself and me to go birding!

The weather forecast was extremely poor, so it was a pleasant surprise to be setting off in beautiful conditions.  However 25  minutes later and we were in whiteout conditions in the Findhorn Valley, the road was clear but the visibility was just shocking!  We did pick up a nice Dipper, perched on a large block of Ice.

Beating a hasty retreat, we found ourselves at a very much Calmer site for Crested Tit, and thankfully the birds are still feeding actively and showing well, I think this cold snap has forced the birds back into “winter mode!”

Doing the Splits! Crested Tit

Heading over the moors the birds were huddled deep in the heather, however the white snow brought out the stunning colours of the Male Red Grouse.  The Loch was still partly frozen, however the cold was not putting off the Goldeneye males displaying to their partners.

Last stop off was at the local Park, which has been hosting a Kingfisher of late, it did not disappoint, although only a brief encounter I did manage a quick pic, not as sharp as I would have liked, but it shows what it is!  The female Goosander has also been a nice bird to see, and seems to be fairly settled.   A nice addition to the local area!

Sunday 04 and Monday 05 February 2018

Well what a cracking couple of days, a long weekend off with Lucky Lynda, a lovely relaxed time, nice walks, nice swim, a lovely early Valentines meal and some cracking Birds as well 🙂

Covesea just outside Lossiemouth was a place we had visited many years ago, and just never got the opportunity or time to revisit the area.  It was a beautiful calm mild day and we had the beach nearly to ourselves (to begin with)

All seemed quiet until a movement higher up the dunes turned up a male and female Stonechat, closely followed by three linnets, then we noticed a roosting flock of Sanderling and Ringed Plover.

Sanderling Roost with Ringed Plover in Background.

And then the Dog Walkers arrived and Flushed the lot!

Ringed Plover

Ringed Plovers returning to the roost point.

Monday dawned bright, sunny and frosty.  I had domestics planned today but managed to squeeze in a quick wander in the local area, so glad I did!  Female Goosander, Goldeneye, great views of Grey Heron and star bird of the day Kingfisher (before it was flushed by, yes you have guessed it, a dog walker)

Female Goosander

Grey Heron

Male Kingfisher

So a brilliant couple of days, one day off left before 2018 kicks off in major style, and I cannot wait!

Monday 29 January 2018

A nice walk around a local park have a look at areas for my new/old venture “Beginners Guides to Bird Watching” which is quite strange as seven years ago next month is exactly how Birding Ecosse started! See the “beginners” tab

A pair of Dippers showed very well indeed  flying and feeding beside the two weirs, a female Goldeneye came very close, obviously used to humans, Grey Wagtail, Long Tailed Tit, Mallard, Moorhen and Herring gull. Should be a fantastic location for lesson number 1!



Long Tailed Tit

Thursday 25 January 2018

Well a far better day weatherwise, and the birds performed well in the beautiful sunshine and blue skies.

First up was Black and Red Grouse, and we managed to connect with both on the very first stop!  The Black Grouse going through a very lethargic lek and the Red Grouse continually shouting “Go back, go back go back”

Next stop was the obligatory Coal Tit feeding and Crested Tit location.  The birds were slower to come to the hand as the weather has heated up and natural food is becoming more abundant and I think time is drawing to a close for this particular location, next time will probably be for Osprey!

However some cracking shots to end off the season.

Crested Tit

Cairngorm was simply stunning, still a fair amount of snow, and with that skiers and snowboarders still on the hill, and after a lengthy wait the Snow Bunting did show up, only for a fleeting visit though, as people walking close by flushed them off the usual area and they disappeared miles up the hill!  Luckily though “Billy no Mates” stayed behind and gave Andy great views.

Snow Bunting

And so ended a couple of great days with Andy and Grette, and what way to end the day?  The birthday of Scotland’s  National Bard?  Haggis Neeps and Tatties of course 🙂

Haggis, Neeps and Tatties nommm nommm nommmm!

Wednesday 24 January 2018

A very very windy trip out today with Andy and his daughter Grette, all the way from San Fransico, via most of Europe!  They are a long family vacation.

The weather was absolutely horrendous with heavy squally showers and storm force winds, nonetheless we still had a great day, the Eiders were sheltering from the gales in Burghead harbour and showed brilliantly.

Eider Ducks

Redshank, Turnstone, Sanderling, Ringed Plover, lots of Oystercatchers, and Rock Pipit completed the list.

Just outside Elgin we stopped for lunch at a small loch, it was still half frozen, which had forced the Birds onto the open water, right in front of the car park.  30+ Whooper, Tufted Duck, Wigeon, Goldeneye, Mallard and a lone Male Gadwall.  A great little stop.

As we headed home we passed a lovely short grassed field, and just as I was explaining how perfect it was for Redwings and Fieldfares the said birds appeared over a small hill giving stunning views, and lifers for Andy to boot.

A highly enjoyable day in appalling weather, looking forward to tomorrow, the wind is due to drop, so it is Bunting, Crestie and Eagle day.

Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 January 2018

Had a really nice couple of morning birding the local area just Lynda and myself, we had planned a walk around a local loch that we have just recently rediscovered, however an RBA report of Waxwings in our own town was too tempting and soon we were heading out the door, cameras in hand in search of them.

A brief drive around and nothing was to bee seen, then just as we had turned around for a final sweep of the area, there, right at the very top of quite a large tree, 4 Waxies 🙂  Lynda’s first of the year.

Very grainy pics of the Forres waxwings!

However after watching these birds feed on an apple tree Lynda remarked, “I thought I had a Blackcap there, but then a sparrow hopped out, must have mistaken it”  Then about 10 minutes later, guess what appeared?….

An even grainier Male Blackcap!

Next was our local loch, and an area we are just exploring, but looking very good for being put on the itinerary for a walk with Birding Ecosse. The wather was overcast, chilly with  strong southerly breeze whipping the top of the tree’s, and not surprisingly bird life was very quiet, it was amazing the effect weather has on the birds behaviour.  But nonetheless it really is a beautiful place to go for a wander.

A circular walk at a Local Loch –  great start to a Sunday

January 01 – 15 2018

When a booking request starts off with the statement  “I know we were forbidden to cross your path again but would really like to visit ………” you know you are in for a good weekend and so that what was to be with Serena and Richard.

The weather had been forecast wild and wintry over the weekend, however we managed to “dodge the bullet” and had a relatively nice few days, albeit quite chilly!

We ranged over most of the Highlands during the trip, the Findhorn valley, although devoid of eagles, was stunning nonetheless.

Coffee time in Strathdearn!

No trip at this time of year is complete without a visit to feed the Coal Tits and pick  one our speciality birds, the Crested tit. Their numbers seem to be doing very well and at one point we had three birds feeding together!

The lifers for Richard and Serena came in the form of Waxwing, it had been mentioned on previous days the these stunning birds had eluded them at various points, and so when I arrived home that night, and had an alert from RBA of two Waxies in a local town, I knew what format the next day would take!

So just as dawn was breaking the next morning, the three of us were standing in the company of Four of the best birds you can see in the UK.  Waxwings and the bogey for Richard and Serena was broken  ….. there is no dross with Birding Ecosse 🙂

Bohemian Waxwing

Well 2018 has most definitely got off to a flying start!  From day one the birds have been performing well, and the first of the month saw Myself and Lucky Lynda exploring a new area, just 1 1/2 miles away from our front door.

A beautiful serene Scottish loch surrounded by mature Scots pine and silver birch, Lynda was in her element as some of her favourite birds in the shape of Long Tailed Tit and Goldcrest approached to a few metres away.

Lynda in her happy place!

It was my favourite sort of morning crisp, frosty and bright a truly fantastic day to be out and about and thee perfect start for 2018!

Long Tailed Tit – one of Lyndas favourites.

And so the Birding Ecosse season sprung into life on the morning of January 03, when I met Richard, Evelyn and Margret in the reception of the Grant Arms Hotel.  The last time I was birding with Richard it was +40 in Southern Spain, so was glad to see he had dressed appropriately for the Scottish weather outside!

Over the next two days  we toured around the Highlands of Scotland, from the beautiful Moray coast, to the High tops of Cairngorm on the way picking up some brilliant birds and getting everyone’s year list off to a great start, sighting such as close up Whooper Swans in a small lochan just metres from the main Inverness-Aberdeen road, Purple Sandpipers huddled against the dap rocks trying to escape both the wind and sea spray.

Whooper Swan

Purple Sandpiper

It wasn’t only the birds that put on a great show, the Scottish scenery did as well!

Cairngorm was in full ski season mode with a good covering of snow, even down to carpark level, and what does snow at Cairngorm car park mean?  Yes, Snow Buntings!

Like a page out of a Crossley field guide! Snow Bunting action!

And although Eagless the stunning Strathdearn (Findhorn Valley) was just as beautiful as ever!

The beautiful lighting (albeit very short at the moment with daylight not coming in proper until 0900 and starts to darken around 1600!)  it made even the most common of species take on some fantastic colours and reflections.

Black Headed Gull in winter plumage and sunshine!