Monday, 3 November 2014

Burghead and Lossiemouth

A visit to Burghead never fails to produce something. During the winter hundreds of sea ducks reside in Burghead Bay and in periods of rough weather take shelter in the harbour. This time we were royally entertained by Eiders, several in the harbour, catching a plentiful supply of crabs.

Eiders have a great way of dealing with the bits of crab they don't want. The specimen is shaken and dunked until all the legs and claws fall off and is then consumed, leaving a lump in the throat, of the Eider that is!

Further round on the beach another flock of Eiders feeding off the point, constantly harassed by Herring Gulls.

One day the sun was shining and roosting on the rocks were five Knot amongst the Oystercatchers, one Knot posed for us before the incoming tide caused them to depart. It was good to record two Purple Sandpipers, making a brief visit before being swept from their perch by a large wave.

Seawatching  produced several good sightings, three Bonxies and a lone Pomarine Skua. Lots of Gannets plunge diving, a horde of Shags and the odd string of newly arrived Long-tailed Ducks. Razorbills and Guillemots were about in good numbers. The star sighting was two brief glimpses of a Minke Whale breaching a fair way offshore. Seals are numerous here and they can be easily spotted, poking their heads up just off the rocky beach.

Burghead is a busy fishing port, the bonus is that when one of the boats enters harbour the seals follow and today was no exception.

I reckon this one has landed its last catch, the propeller probably worth more than the rest.

We visited Roseisle for another sea watch and to try to locate a reported Red-necked Grebe. Plenty of birds present in flat calm conditions. We recorded Velvet and Common Scoters, Eider and Long-tailed Ducks, Goosander, Red-breasted Merganser, Slavonian Grebes and finally the sought after Red-necked Grebe.

We rounded off the day with another visit to Lossiemouth, this time the harbour and the estuary. The river and East Beach are home to a large flock of Wigeon and roosting gulls of all kinds. Odd how a common bird on your own patch can cause excitement for the local birders, a lone Mediterranean Gull spotted by a sharp eyed birder amongst the huge numbers of gulls, was a notable record. Two rather scruffy looking Goosanders were in the river and several female Red-breasted Mergansers were feeding where a small burn entered the main river.


Meanest looking Herring Gull I have ever seen

If you visit Lossie then I heartily recommend that you visit the local home made ice cream emporium on the esplanade. Great to sit and consume a twin cone Snicker and sea salt caramel whilst searching the gulls for something exotic.

The RAF are busy here and we were treated to flybys of both Tornado and Typhoon aircraft, the odd observation is that these extremely noisy machines do not disturb the birds one iota.

One for Dave Shepherd

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