Sunday, 8 March 2015

Snow Buntings

Day 3 Moray and Nairn Coast (cont.)

Following our success with the Twite we were keen to make progress along the coast. At Burghead we had our first disappointment - no ducks on the harbour, just a few gulls on the harbour wall and a single Shag. So we made the short journey to the beach, just around the headland, for a short sea watch. The ever present flock of Eiders were diving for crabs, half a dozen Long-tailed Ducks and a Red-throated Diver were just off shore. Cormorants and Shags were feeding and several Red-breasted Mergansers were loafing just out from the rocks. Further out Gannets were plunge diving. On shore were a Rock Pipit and a rarity, a Hooded Crow that refused the bread that I had thrown for him.

At least it was pleasant here, out of the biting winds. So we made a brew and watched the sea until we were bored. Time to move on, a quick visit to Hopeman produced nothing so we dropped into Lossiemouth. A quick scan of the harbour revealed nothing so we drove round to the East Beach and the estuary. Things were not busy here either, several Bar-tailed Godwits on the far bank, plenty of Wigeon and Gulls but nothing to get the pulse quickening. Recently flocks of Snow Buntings had been reported on the beach, up to 80 plus, where on the south coast we are used to twos and threes. Sitting in the car and scanning the sand dunes opposite we managed to locate a small flock of ten plus. So it was camera gear out and across the small wooden footbridge. When we left the sun was shining, by the time we were in the vicinity of the birds, a squall came over, the skies darkened and it rained heavily. Unfortunately not enough to prevent the sand being blown everywhere, even the Snowies appeared to be sheltering behind whatever cover they could find. Of course it eventually passed and we enjoyed ourselves stalking some charming birds.

Having been half blown away and with sand in everything we moved inland to the hide at Loch Spynie. This is another superb example of how to position a hide and feeders. The front windows provide views of the loch whilst the side windows overlook a host of feeders, all frequented by a horde of tits and even a Treecreeper. A Red Squirrel was eating so many peanuts that he was in danger of becoming stuck!

On the way home we checked out Inchbroom and Anniesland for any stopover Pink-footed Geese. Flocks of 4000 plus had been reported roosting on Findhorn Bay and I was keen to find some of them. Unfortunately the stubble fields were bare but we did find several small flocks of Whoopers. Finally on the way home we spotted a small flock of 18 PfG in with the Greylags, not the numbers I was expecting but at least a tick.

1 comment:

  1. Hi Dave, Am enjoying this adventure on a bleak miserable day here on the 'beach'. Keep it coming!! Trevor