Blog – 2022

Birding Ecosse Blogspot

Welcome to the Birding Ecosse blog, if it is your first visit then thank you very much for dropping in!

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 third party pictures I will have obtained their permission and will give them full credit.

It is designed to be a lighthearted read to show how and where Birding Ecosse operates, so if you are thinking of booking a tour check out this Blog and my Blog Archives 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, check out “latest news” page for the most current publication then just select subscribe.   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, we also produce our mid-month “Planned trips” mailing which gives an update of all remaining spaces available on tours.

So sit back and enjoy the read, any feedback is appreciated.

Keep safe and keep Birding


November 2022 – Newsletter

The beautiful Lochindorb.
Greetings and salutations from the far North, I hope this email finds you all in fine fettle and enjoying some sort of Autumnal migration birding.

Tony and Fiona
Tours have been full on throughout most of October, with the first being on the 1st of the month and the last being on the 30th!
I would also like to take a moment to say thank you. Going full time earlier in the year was a bit nerve wracking, but thanks to you all it now feels like I definitely made the right decision. Many many thanks.

Immature White Tailed Eagle.
The West coast always features high on the Birding Ecosse Autumn tours, and October 2022 was no different. The en-route morning coffee stop at Dundonnell turned up the goods with 3 Golden and two White Tailed Eagles seen over the many visits.
Golden Eagle
Gruinard Bay and Little Gruinard Bay turned out to be Diver heaven, with over 70 Black Throated, 24 Great Northern and 5 Red Throated Divers seen during the month, some of the Great Northerns were still in almost Full Summer Plumage! Other species seen in the area included Slavonian Grebes, Black Guillemots, Merlin, Sparrowhawks and newly arrived flocks of Redwing, Fieldfares and Whooper Swans!
Black Grouse on Lek
Our local Black Grouse are showing well at the moment and with the mornings staying darker they are still displaying at a semi reasonable time! (sadly this has just changed, so for the next few weeks its back to an early alarm!) It is always a great way to start the day watching these beautiful birds “glide” gracefully across their grassy leks before trying to knock lumps out of each other.
Hen Harrier
Strathdearn has been highly productive as well with the latest encounter involving an immature Golden Eagle being “chased off” by two adult’s birds right above our heads at the top car park, an amazing sight.
In nearby glens we also witness a further two adult Golden Eagles and an adult female and immature Hen Harrier, which is a pretty rare bird up here (given the fact we are surrounded by grouse moors!) and staying in Strathdearn we have had some crippling views of Crossbills.
Paul, Val and Xavier
The Highlight of the month on the Moray Coast however came near the end of the month when whilst standing in an Easterly gale I noticed a small pale bird bobbing around in the surf, turned out to be a Grey Phalarope!
The Moray Coast is my “local” spot and always provides some great sightings.  100’s of Long Tailed Ducks are now in the area, sometimes approaching quite close allowing you to hear their lovely “bugling” calls, and where we get Long Tailed Duck’s we usually find Scoters, and true to form we are now seeing small groups of both Common and Velvet scurrying low over the water’s surface. Puffins have been seen regularly over the last few weeks, their small dark bills and dull grey faces surprising a lot of people when they see them through our Swarovski scopes.
Short Eared Owl
Turning our eyes to the East we visited the RSPB Loch of Strathbeg a number of times, and it never fails to entertain. This Autumn has been very good with a Temminck’s Stint and Pectoral Sandpiper being the highlights, with added bonus being the Temminck’s being my 200th species of the year (Fanfare!) whilst just up the coast from Strathbeg we witnessed one of nature’s spectacles, Visible Migration (Viz Mig)  As we stood having coffee stop, a Short Eared Owl was seen out to sea high over Fraserburgh Bay, then another flew right over the top of the car, followed by two late Swallows feeding over the harbour and resting on the handrails, a Woodcock zipped past low over the beach and dunes, 5 Twite alighted not too far from us and started feeding on the docking seeds, with a group of linnets nearby giving my victims a great side by side comparison, then to round it off yet another Short Eared Owl in off the sea over the dunes to our right.  A truly fantastic half an hour!
Ed (BOTHIE) overlooking Little Gruinard
Another first for a Birding Ecosse was not a feathered friend, or even a furry four legged beast, no! This was a ……… Mermaid.
Jane, Derek and Gill watching Rock Pipits
And finally, to appease the furry brigade, here is an Otter (one of the three we encountered this month), yes indeed a non-bird, that hauled up right in front of us to eat its lunch.
 Otter Ecosse!

And so yet another month is over, as I type this Halloween is this evening (I’m away to “howk oot ma neep” for the guisers visit. Soon it will be Christmas! Ho Ho Ho!

Just a final notice for any victims visiting the Grant Arms in Grantown on Spey (or nearby) at New Year, I’m planning a Big Day on 01st January 2023, there will be three seats available for a full day of Birding. Thinking of doing a 200 in 2023?  This could be the perfect start!  Drop me a line for more details and get booked in before I advertise to the wider world!

So until next month, keep well and Good Birding!


November 2022 Hall of Victims
Fiona and Tony, Bryan, Karen, Derek, Gill and Jane, Heather, Paul, Val, Xavier and Ed
“Quote of the month”
This months contribution comes from Heather, who after a few hours of my ramblings stated “I don’t really know what to believe you are such a Clown……. (Hastily corrected to..) well not a clown more of a joker.  I think quite a few of my victims would agree with your first assessment 🙂

September 2022 – Round Up

Greetings and salutations from the far North and welcome to this October Newsletter. Firstly, where did September go? I was quite happily muddling through August then all of a sudden “Hello October” the trees are changing colour and Easter Eggs are in the shops!

September is a busy month, summer birds are in their final stages of preparation for migration and the very first signs of winter migrants start to appear, this year in the form of Pink Footed Geese. Lying in bed it is always nice to hear the first “honk, honk, ink, ink, honk” as Skien’s of these weary travellers’ head for Findhorn Bay, just 5 miles away. A very evocative sound.

The West Coast is always worth a visit at this time of year, and that is where Jackie and myself were bound early on in the month. Enroute to Gruinard a large raptor appeared just to the left of the car and passed low overhead “Golden Eagle” was the cry as we watched it glide over the moorland and disappear across a nearby hill.. a cracking start!

Tourist Eagle – Common Buzzard
Swallows were seen in quite high numbers, nearly all being this years birds, feeding on insects on the road. But Birds of the day had to be the Black Throated Divers, all still sporting their summer plumage, 2 close into shore at the Aultbae slipway, 16 in one group at Little Loch Gruinard and a further 14 in one raft in Gruinard bay.  A great day with great company, scenery and birds.
One of my all time favourite places – Committee Road, North Uists.
Another firm favourite at this time of year is our annual “Autumn Trip” to the Uists, the chain of Islands off the West Coast of Scotland, from Berneray in the North to Vatersay in the South this tour covers them all.  It was also the first visit to Langass Lodge for Birding Ecosse, a lovely old shooting lodge standing in its own grounds, surrounded with mature trees and shrubs it was an ideal location and one that will most definitely feature in future Birding Ecosse trips.
Robert, Maureen and Peter – Uists Autumn 2022

It really is a fantastic place to visit, and over our three full days exploring the Islands Maureen, Peter and Robert racked up over 80 species including: Seven White Tailed Eagles (in particular the three birds, one adult and two immatures that Maureen spotted low over the moors, a fantastic sight!

Waders featured high on the “want” list and although it took a wee bit of searching we did manage to get onto Pectoral Sandpiper, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Sanderling and a group of seven stunning summer plumaged Grey Plover.

A beautiful sight – Black Tailed Godwits
The RSPB reserve at Balranald gave great comparison views of Linnets and Twite perched on the phone wires and as the sun came out a flock of Black Tailed Godwits took off and flashed their brilliant white wing bars and tails, a glorious sight.
Once again it was a great visit to the Islands and I cannot wait until we return next year!

Peach faced stunner – Twite

And my favourite picture from the whole Uists trip?  This lovely Hebridean Wren on a grey and damp morning just outside the Hotel.
September is also Pelagic season, one of my favourite times of the year, and I was on the Calmac MV Seaforth from Ullapool to Stornoway at every opportunity! 2022 will go down as the Year of the Sooty Shearwater, with exceptional numbers being seen, one trip saw us seeing over 140 individuals, Far outnumbering the usually more numerous Manx!
Skua numbers were definitely lower with only 12 Great Skuas being seen in the whole season, Arctic Skuas seemed more plentiful and gave some great shows as they attacked the flocks of Kittiwakes.Cetaceans were represented by Common, Risso’s and Bottle Nosed Dolphins, Porpoise and breaching Minke Whales (yes, yes I know it’s not Cetacean Ecosse, but they were nice to see 🙂 )
Most trips were in flat calm conditions, however the last trip was akin to a winter crossing for Bill, Janet and Sandy, rough seas, heavy swell, freezing cold and lots of lens misting spray… it was brilliant!
Janet, Bill and Sandy
And the icing on the cake was as we got off the MV Seaforth was this lovely Glaucous Gull at Ullapool Ferry Terminal.
Another, now annual event, is the Grant Arms Hotel Staff outing, always a great laugh with many many stories, jokes and “putting the worlds to rights” this year was a drive over the Bealach na Ba to the beautiful Applecross area. Bird life was fairly quiet but the scenery and company more than made for that.
Double trouble – Pam and Marion from the Grant Arms Hotel
Towards the end of the month, return victim Richard arrived with a list of twelve birds he needed to get him to his 200 Species in 2022 (we managed to get him his 200 in late December 2021 with a Crested Tit) would we be as successful this year?
200 searcher Richard

Day 1 saw us on the moors, a no show on the Black Grouse was not a great way to start (especially after a very early 07:00 start!) however we soon had its cousins Red Grouse in our sights (189)  Next to our local “sludge treatment works” one of our more exotic locations, Long Tailed Duck (190) and a well marked winter plumaged Slavonian Grebe (191) A quick stop off in the vain hope of King Eider at Nairn did net a Red Throated Diver (192)

Roseisle was the next stop and gave us 3 x Sooty Shearwaters (193) and 2 Black Throated Divers (194) with the weather closing in we headed back inland, and although the Crested Tits didn’t show themselves a flyover Crossbill (195) was a nice year tick for Richard, not a bad first day, and I headed home to plan a route to see us to the 200.

Knot at Burghead
Day two dawned, the weather had abated (slightly) and just as the gloom lifted we found ourselves watching 5 Black Grouse (196) up next Tree Sparrows (197) at the  beautiful and Historic Dallas Dhu distillery on the Dava way!  You see its not all Sludge works and Pig Farms….. Next up was a flying Glaucous Gull at a …….. pig farm just outside Lossiemouth (198) Doh!   A quick recce of Hopeman produced a single Purple Sandpiper roosting with a couple of Turnstones (199) we could smell victory!!
Heading over to the Black Isle for my 100% banker bird we stopped off at Loch Flemington, and there tucked up hard against the reeds 2 Whooper Swans!! The 200!! Once again Birding Ecosse had done it!  What a relief!
And so with the pressure off we headed across the Kessock Bridge to the mystical Black Isle, my banker birds, Scaups showed well (over 200 of them) making 201, and equalling Richards 2021 record, and how else would you finish a 200 year in the Highlands?  Yes returning to the beautiful Pine forests we were rewarded with a Crested Tit, calling and posing in a tall Scots Pine, 202 final total, and a fantastic couple of days!
Last up for September 22 was Karen all the way from the US of A

And so to the very end of the month and an Inverness pick up for life lister Karen, driving through the busy Inverness traffic it soon became apparent we were in for a full on day looking for lifers, I love this sort of Birding.

During a full day on a round robin of all the areas we notched up some great birds, Velvet Scoter, Knots, Red Throated Diver (still in full plumage) Peregrine, stunning views of Bar Tailed Godwits, Red Kite and Dipper to name a few.
At the end of the day Karen admitted she had checked e-bird and had a figure in her head of 4 life birds for the day, in total  we managed to get her ……. 19!  Happy victim and very happy guide!

What a truly fantastic month September 2022 was!  I wonder what October will bring?

So thats it, I hope you enjoyed the read and until next time – Keep safe and Good Birding!



Uists 2022 – 09-13 September 2022

And that’s a wrap! The end of the Uists 2022 season has sadly arrived.

The latest batch of Victims Robert, Maureen and Peter notched up an impressive 86 species and covering all the islands from Berneray in the North to Vatersay in the south.

Team Uists 2022 – Robert, Maureen and Peter.

Weather was a mixed bag with beautiful sunshine, flat calm (with Midges) to Downpours (not the local Gin lol) and gales! But all in all it was quite pleasant.  Accommodation was at the old hunting lodge “Langass Lodge” comfy beds, great showers, super friendly and helpful staff and lovely food, I have to mention the Fish and Chips off the bar menu and the Monk Fish and Langoustine from the restaurant, absolutely delicious!

An Autumn visit to the Uists is a very different experience to a summer trip, no Corncrakes or Phalaropes, but plenty of interesting things to keep us amused.

The stars of the trip had to be the waders, areas such as Middlequarter, Ardivachar and Stinky Bay all came up Trumps with Pectoral and Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stints, Ruff and Grey Plovers, still sporting their breeding plumage, add to these Golden Plover, Turnstones, Know Black and Bar Tailed Godwits, Sanderling, Oystercatchers, Curlews, and Redshanks! Absolutely brilliant.


Black Tailed Godwits

RSPB Balranald came up with great comparisons on Linnet and Twites, sitting on the fences and telephone wires.



The small birds put on a good show with 4 Sand Martins at the south end of Loch Bi passing through in waves and joined with Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails.

A Slavonian Grebe just over the causeway at Benbecula showed some very strange but interesting behaviour, when we first spotted the bird is was floating normally on the water, it then dived, as we watched the bird resurfaced, but only poking the crown of head, eye and upper mandible out of the water, it then slipped sub surface again before once again resurfacing with just the crown, eye and upper bill above the water, it carried this out four of five times, very strange.  I have seen this behaviour in Black Throated Divers but never in Grebes.

And finally, my favourite picture of the trip was this Wren, sitting on a Canna flower on an early damp and misty Hebridean morning.


Thursday 01 September 2022

As we draw closer to Autumn, the trees are just beginning to turn colour, Hirundines are still present in the area with some House Martin still trying to encourage their second broods to leave the nest,

The last few months have been a torrent of Birding Tours and family stuff, both leading to some fantastic birding.  A quick pictorial summary follows.

Black Browed Albatross

Probably the Highlight of this year so far, the long staying Black Browed Albatross at RSPB Bempton Cliffs, absolutely fantastic to witness this master of the air in flight!

Hot on the heels of the Albatross were the breeding Bee Eaters at Trimingham at Norfolk, long range pictures but fantastic views through the scopes.

In my life I have only ever seen three Bitterns, and all have been out of the right-hand window of the Bittern Hide at RSPB Minsmere, sad to think that very soon the new nuclear facility at Sizewell C will border right onto the flagship RSPB Minsmere reserve.

Marsh Harriers put on a great show, a true success story from Norfolk and Suffolk.

Dunwich Heath is now probably both Lucky Lynda’s and my favourite visit, beautiful habitat, a great coffee shop and Dartford Warblers! What’s not to like!

A visit to Arbroath gave some good year birds, a Juvenile Black Tern hung about on the foreshore for a good four hours and a total count of three Mediterranean Gulls, something a young David would never ever have imagined being possible.

Another nice find was over 100 Little Gulls, quite a surprise to see so many in one place!

Even the commoner species showed well, like this Redshank in fighting mood with its peers!

A couple of Common Cranes cheered up a lunchtime at RSPB Loch of Strathbeg, it is so nice to see these birds are becoming more numerous and have bred in the area.

Our local Slavonians had a very good season managing to get two chicks away, a really fantastic success for such a rare species, the reports I am hearing does not point to an overall good season though.

We have also had quite a good cetacean season with this Minke breaching more like a Dolphin than a whale!

So, all in all, it has been a great time, this full-time guiding is turning out quite well!

Friday 08 to Sunday 10 July 2022

A truly fantastic three days with a great group of folk, exploring the stunning west coast of Scotland, the beautiful Scottish Highlands and the dramatic Moray Coastline.

Shenagh, Mandy and Ben

Shenagh, Mandy and Ben were first up, and as we set off the running plan for the day changed due to very low cloud from the high pass to Applecross to the stunning West Coast. Stopping off at a small Loch en-route is was quite sad to see no Slavonian Grebes in the area, this site used to hold at least four pairs, hopefully they have moved to another lochan, however on a happier note the Osprey nest we watch each year has two fairly chunky, nearly fledged, young!

The West coast was bathed in sun when we arrived, two pure Hooded Crows were perched on the nearby church roof, Gannets gleaming pure white circled and fed out in the bay, but there was a severe lack of birds on the water, moving around the coast we had great views of Juvenile Wheatear, Eider female with a fluffy chick, Curlews.

Lunch with a view

Heading out to Mellon Charles we were treated to superb views of Common Terns as they fed and tended to the young, it was surprising the age spread of chicks with some tiny birds to some fully fledged.

And so to the bird pictured above, a bird that every year leads to many “what on earth is that” comments, with most people coming down on the side of some sort of wader.  It is in fact a juvenile Black Headed Gull!  Quite a smart looking bird I think.

Now the constant factor on the three days was Shenagh, and today she was joined by Umesh, Vibha and Shanti.

Shanti, Vibha and Umesh on Cairngorm

Today was Cairngorm birds, the day was mild, however arriving from sunny and warm California Shanti and Vibha were feeling the cold!  I was nearly in tee shirt and flip flops.

A really pleasant day ensued with great views of Male Reed Bunting, Spotted Flycatcher, Red Grouse, Slavonian Grebe, Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Common Sandpiper and Meadow Pipits to name just a few.

Spotted Flycatcher

After lunch and as is normal at this time of year raptor valley was fairly quiet however an Osprey was a great bonus as we watched it fish in the river Findhorn, it really is a great spectacle of nature to see these birds stoop and plunge into the water.

The final day was just Shenagh and myself, and it was a day of great chat, good advice (received not given I hasten to ask!) beautiful scenery and great birds, plus a bit of an added bonus.

First stop was Bowfiddle Rock, a bit of an overlooked local beauty spot.

Bowfiddle Rock

It was scorching on the coast today, but so nice to experience some proper summer time.

Bowfiddle Rock is one of my favourite places to be in the summer time, Fulmars glide past almost at touching distance, Kittiwakes “Kitti-waaaake Kitti – Waaaaake” on the vertical cliff faces beside Guillemots and Razorbills, Herring Gulls and Shag litter any other available ledges, shelves and flat areas.  Further along the cliff path we came to the small breeding cliff. this area gives outstanding close up views of the breeding birds, the highlight being seeing the emerald green eye of the Shags, the bonus for today was a Minky Whale very very close to shore! (and yes I know it is not Whale Ecosse!)

Driving along the beautiful Moray Coastline we were treated to Eiders with Chicks, Moulting Goosanders, Rock Pipits, Gannets, Black Guillemots, and superb comparison views of Common and Arctic Terns on Lossiemouth Estuary.

We did see a couple of dead Gannets on our travels a sobering reminder of the Avian Flu that is ravaging seabird colonies throughout the North of Scotland, hopefully our birds will rebound over the coming months and years.

Arctic Tern

Common Tern

Tuesday 05 July 2022

Strangely enough todays pick up for Terry and her son Stephen was once again in Inverness, that is every tour since I left the railway been Inverness collections!

Anyway soon we had driven south and were on the beautiful (although sterile) Scottish grouse moors, the drizzly cool weather (+8) kept the Grouse huddled down although we did manage to see one female and around 4 chicks.

It was also great to see the local Black Throated Divers  cruising around with their now quite sizable two chicks, hopefully securing the breeding link to this stunning location.

Common Sandpiper

A slow drive around the loch gave excellent views of Lapwing, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Common Sandpiper, and more surprisingly a Cuckoo and one of my first Spotted Flycatchers of the season, I feel the Flycatchers are arriving later and later each year.

A very distant and heavily cropped Cuckoo

Spotted Flycatcher

The day then took a more sombre turn when we tried to drive to the Strathdearn Valley only to be faced with a huge tailback and a closed A9, Sadly it transpired that three people had perished in a horrible crash that closed the road for many hours.

Stephen and Terry

A change of plan saw us heading to the stunning area of Spey dam, one of our target species for today the dipper was seen just below the River at the beginning of the dam, however it was when we stopped for a Coffee at the beginning of the Dam itself that Stephen looked up as an adult Golden Eagle glided overhead and across the valley, a glorious sight!  Throughout the trip in the valley we also picked up Stonechat (plenty of Juveniles) Meadow Pipits, Osprey, Siskin, Coal Tit, Buzzard, Kestrel and Sparrowhawk.

A great day with Terry and Stephen, I look forward to our next meeting, hopefully in less than 4 years time like it was this trip!

Friday 08 to Sunday 10 July 2022

Another fantastic three days birding we a super set of people!

Thursday 30 June and Friday 01 July 2022

Well what can I say, so much has changed since my last blog below, we are selling our house, we have already moved back out into the country where we can sit on our couches and watch Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Tree Sparrows and Red Squirrels on our feeder and where the only sound we hear is the wind blowing in the silver birches… total bliss!  But the biggest change to my life is I have now retired from my job in the Railway and as such I am now a full time Birding Guide! It has taken a while, my initial hope was to be full time in three years, however being the coward I am it has taken fourteen to get to that stage, but the deed is done and the only way now is forward! (although it still does feel I’m holiday and will be going back to the old job any day soon!)

Vivek and Abja en-route to Troup Head

The first people to fall victim to “Full Time” Dave were Abja and Vivek, all the way from the US of A and what a great couple of days, filled with stories, laughs, advice (thank you Vivek) and history, plus some great birding as well!

A trip to Troup Head is always a great day out, this year however it has taken on a different guise with the arrival of Bird Flu and over the last few weeks we have seen quite a large number of Gannets either dead in the water, cliffs and nesting ledges or birds looking very lethargic and waterlogged on the sea surface or land, a very sad sight indeed, at present the Auks and Kittiwakes look unaffected.

RSPB Troup Head

it was no all doom and gloom though and there were still thousands of seabirds to see Guillemots, Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Puffin, Kittiwake, Shag, Cormorant, Herring, Great Black Backed, Lesser Black Backed and Black Headed Gull all put in an appearance.  Highlight of the trip though had to be when Harold and Sophia threw some Mackerel overboard, the resulting feeding frenzy was just jawdropping!


The next day was Highland Birds and another great day.  Red Grouse was first on the list and a female and chicks duly obliged.

Red Grouse

It was nice to see the young Grouse, hopefully they will survive no only the summer but also when the shooting season starts again.

We also had a good showing of the breeding waders pictured below:



We also picked up great views of a Male Lesser Redpoll and Male Reed Bunting, and this Male Greenfinch decided to stop off and check us out, checking it out!

Male Greenfinch

And so the two days passed far too quickly, soon I was waving Abja and Vivek farewell, strangely enough at Inverness Railway Station 🙂  a great couple of days in good company, thanks to both of you!

Saturday 14 May 2022

So much for a weekly blog! Life once again has gone into birding tour overdrive with all my May and June dates now full, thank you to everyone for booking, it is much appreciated.

We have had some absolutely fantastic birding lately, Little Ringed Plover, Great White Egret, Marsh Harriers, Garganey, Lots and lots of Ospreys, Golden Eagle and lots more beside.

As if that is not busy enough Birding Ecosse is moving HQ back out into the countryside, so watch out for lots of Garden Bird pictures, already had a Crossbill, Tree Sparrows and Yellowhammer visiting, along with next doors Muscovy Duck “Bob” (who is actually a she!)

So just a few shots of some of the birds my victims have encountered over the last few weeks:




A frazzled looking Dipper with food for its brood!




“Bridled” Guillemot

Male Yellowhammer

Weekly Blog:  07 – 13 March 2022

A very quiet week tours wise but still a lot to see and do in the area.  The Long Staying King Eider was seen again off the Nairn Leisure centre, but was absolutely miles out, just below the horizon and quite difficult to pick out from the Common Eiders it was hanging around with.

A Surf Scoter was off Roseisle viewpoint at the beginning of the week but has since fallen off the radar.

Winter migrants still grace the area with flocks of Fieldfare and Redwing seen on most birding days and Pink Footed Geese still depart Findhorn Bay early morning.

Dipper collecting nesting material

The local Dippers are back on territory and a memory of 2 year ago was this bird collecting nesting material at a site in Nethybridge, which incidentally is still hosting 4 Waxwings although the Hawfinches seem to have moved on.

And so that’s another week over, this time next week I should be in Norfolk, however even now there is exciting news for the next weekly blog…… stay tuned 😉

Keep safe and Good Birding


Weekly Blog:  28 Feb – 06 March 2022

Welcome to my (hopefully) weekly blog, a very quick resume of the weeks birding highlights.

It was a busy week with Maureen and Peter out for a day trip and Denise taking part in a weekend tour, a wide variety of species were requested, we were lucky on some and missed out on others.

For some reason the pretty village of Nethybridge was the epicentre of birding activity in the area with Waxwings, Hawfinch and a huge influx of Brambling on offer.

Some of the huge Brambling influx to the area.

The waxwings were picked up on a couple of Mornings but remained high up in trees and in very poor lighting for photography, the Hawfinch was never seen!

Crossbills were high on the wanted lists and luckily we scored on every trip, the birds performed really well for all trips feeding on larch cones and one male in full song,

Crossbill (male top picture – female lower)

The three long staying Snow Geese were outside Lossiemouth in a field with a group of Feral Greylags and the Ring Necked Duck on a wee Lochan outside Elgin is always a nice bird to pick up.

Snow Bunting were also a wanted bird, and they did not disappoint.

Trips to the West Coast of Scotland are always a treat, and always turn up nice birds, this time we had all the regular Divers including this very showy Great Northern Diver.

Surprisingly for BIRDING Ecosse we picked up a fair few “other stuff” including a very showy Dolphiny type thing,

We also saw Red and Roe Deer, Brown Hare, Grey Seal and Red Squirrel.

Plus mother nature gifted us with some stunning weather and jaw dropping scenery.

And so that is you all up to date for this week, keep safe and keep Birding!

Monday 21 February 2022

A highly entertaining day scooting around Moray and the Highlands with multi trip victim Pam, starting off at Burghead harbour we were treated to a group of Eiders inside the harbour walls giving outstanding views, this one bird showed an interesting plumage.

Male Eider

A Carbo Cormorant was trying it’s hardest to be a Sinensis Cormorant! But try as I might the gular patch remained Carbo.

Cormorant (Carbo)

But Highlight had to be the long staying King Eider at Nairn and today was the closest I have seen it by far. (still rubbish pictures though!)

Also added to the days list were Brambling, Velvet Scoters, Purple Sandpipers, 3 White Morph Snow Geese and a beautiful male Red Grouse it was a truly great day out

Monday 14 February 2022

Cracking day today with a full on twitch with Lynda, Hilary and Craig, destination Fraserburgh, and focus of the twitch? A superb adult Ross’s Gull! Expectations were high!

Arriving at Kinnaird Head a fellow Birder informed us straight away the bird was present and showing distantly but well through a scope.


Kinnaird Head Lighthouse – Fraserburgh


Looking out to the area where the Ross’s Gull was hanging around with local Kittiwakes
Even before I had switched off the engine Lynda was out and scanning the area with her binos! Soon we had all got in position, scopes on tripods (2 x Swaro 95 ATX – 1 x 80 STS HD and a 65 STS HD!) it was like a Swarovski field day!
Scanning through the mixed flock of Herring, Common, Black Headed Gull and Kittiwake when boom a small very pale gull hove into view.  First two things that I noticed 1. The Smokey grey underwings 2. The very bouncy flight pattern.
Ross’s Gull showing Smokey grey underwing
The bird was as described, quite far out, however through the scope you could make out the slight pinking blush, the pale grey upper wings the pure white wingtips and the snow white wedge tailed tail. A really lovely wee Gull
Once the gull was located it was relatively easy to pick it out, even through the Camera lens. Sadly it remained quite distant so record shots only achieved.  It had a very bouncy flight with a very distinctive habit of dropping to the waters surface and “paddling” very petrel like.  Its red legs showing well when it did this.
Distinctive Petrel like pattering on waters surface.

Ross’s Gull below a Kittiwake for size comparison
Fantastic trip out, weather was wild, wet and windy but it really added rather detracted from the experience, a grand day out!
Wednesday 02 February 2022
First full tour of 2022 and what an absolutely stonking day!
Arriving at Nairn we were onto our target bird within 5 minutes of getting out the Flying Pig, a stunning full male King Eider was loafing about with a male and female Common Eider, see truly woeful shot below!
King Eider dot (middle bird 🙂 )
Next on the rare list was three Snow geese that have been in the area for a good few weeks now, we were not disappointed!
Last but not least a Ring Necked Duck ended a fantastic day, really sorry about the pictures, my editing suite does not want to play game (new computer!)

In total 64 species were seen including 20 Brent Geese, over 400 Pintails, 40 plus Velvet Scoter, Common Scoter and Long Tailed Ducks, 1 Slavonian Grebe, Purple Sandpiper and Red Throated Divers.

A perfectly nice birding day was spoiled by Bottle Nosed Dolphins and this Squirrel.

January 2022

Greetings and Salutations from the far North, well 2022 has got off to an amazing start from day 1!

A big Day Buzzard

Saturday 01 January 2022 08:15 saw Lucky Lynda and myself scoping a beautiful mixed flock of ducks on the Findhorn Bay, a great way to start a “Big Day Bird Race” organised by some of my former colleagues, last years total of 55 was the target to beat, and with 15 Birds on the list already just as day broke including some beautiful male Pintails, what could be a better way to start.

Purple Sandpiper
Arriving at Burghead the rain was “stoating doon” as we say here in Scotland so it was a great time to have a cuppy and sea watch from the car, Long Tailed Duck, Common Eiders, Red Breasted Mergansers, Common Scoter and Black Throated Diver were soon all added! Cuppy finished and 28 Species seen we were making good progress – next stop Loch Spynie.
Tree Sparrow
It was more like dusk than lunchtime when we arrived at RSPB Loch Spynie but the feeders in the car park where teeming with birds, Tree Sparrow, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blue, Great and Coal Tit, which was just as well as the actual Loch was very quiet adding just Mute Swan, Coot, Mallard and Goosander, however the list now stood at 49!  Target well and truly in sight!
Light was fading fast as we made whirlwind visits to Lossiemouth and Hopeman (no sign of the King Eider sadly) however the Rock Pipit at Burghead (second visit of the day) brought up the species list 55! Bar Tailed Godwit 56, Sanderling 57, Ringed Plover 58, Goldeneye 59, Bullfinch 60, Long Tailed Tit 61, Greylag Goose 62, Mistle Thrush 63, Sparrowhawk 64, Stonechat 65, then to finish the day off and to take joint first place in the Big Day Bird Race 2022 bird number 66 a fantastic view of Woodcock in the dark on the way home! (meaning Lynda and I were on the way home, not the Woodcock I have no idea where it lives) What a truly great way to start 2022!

Sunday 02nd Jan started off where the 01st ended with a text saying a Waxwing was showing well about 20 miles away in a place called Elgin, so once again Lucky Lynda and myself mounted the trusty flying pig and set sail. The journey was very worthwhile!

What was nice is that there were some great birds hanging around with the Waxwing.

Female Bullfinch

Male Bullfinch


Mistle Thrush

And as if things could not get better, we had our first tour of 2022! A brilliant half day with Susan and Sean Tu looking for Crested Tits.
After a blank trip to Loch Garten we had brilliant views of one bird at a wee site near to Nethybridge, we also managed to hook up with a flock of beautiful Snow Buntings at Cairngorm and ended the day with crippling views of a Woodcock in a puddle nor far from Susan and Sean Tu’s house, a fantastic first month of the year!Bookings are going well and starting next week we are  back to being out and about at full speed, the Flying Pig will be back spick and span being fixed after an encounter with a Roe Deer!  Covid restrictions are relaxing, with masks still being required in the car, and we will continue to disinfect the vehicle at the end and before each day starts, hand sanitiser is readily available and spare masks are carried.
So that’s it 2022 is out the blocks and building momentum and things are looking good, if you have any intention of heading to the Highlands in 2022 please check out the available dates and get in touch as soon as you can, I can see this being a busy year for us!