Saturday, 14 May 2011

East Coast Birding

Saturday May 14
We have seen sooo many Kittiwakes to-day. After an early start, packing the car in the rain, we left at 6.10 a.m. Via an unexpected, and unsigned, A road closure and continuous rain, we arrived at Starnafin Farm, Loch of Strathbeg RSPB at 9.45.
The Centre Hide held an assistant warden only, we could move about at will, peering through raindropped windows at not a lot. The rain eventually became more sporadic,  we added several trip ticks. The expected Tree Sparrows in the car park, two Garganey flew into a cut, 2 Black-tailed Godwits, Gadwall, Marsh Harrier and Whooper Swans on the far pool. Our first Sandwich Terns too. We' ve also seen many Swifts to-day, not usual for Scotland.
We opted out of the walk to Tower Hide and the airfield because of the strong cold wind and regular rain.
Sea-watching at St Combs, near the Tufted Duck Hotel ( we stayed there when we flew up for a weekend to see Black Stork), brought the first of the Kittiwake hordes fly past. Moving on to Cairnbulg, there were even more. Several thousands an hour. Fantastic place for sea watching although not very salubrious ! Rubbish everywhere and an overwhelming stench of rotting seaweed and fish. A wrecked fishing boat listed on its side offshore, Shags and Cormorants utilising it  for perching. A few hardy, wet suited sail surfers, practised recovery from capsizing in the very rough sea and strong wind. Looked fun....
Summer plumaged Turnstones eventually gave themselves up from the seashore weed and rocks.
Cruden Bay for a cup of coffee from a little hut in the Harbour car park, our first all day. Thousands of screeching Kittiwakes were abluting in the fresh river water running into the bay. Scanning around, I found a single sleeping Long-tailed Duck bobbing about with four Eiders.
The shore off Collieston was far less rough, the occasional Auk scurrying by,  Eider loafing offshore with a few distant Red-throated Divers.
Low tide at the Ythan, Inch Road, is heart dropping. All those Eiders, sleeping on the shore or hurtling downstream on the fast dropping tide. Looking for one King Eider...
I did not succeed on this occasion and the tide was not right later, nor will it be in the morning.
After signing in to the Udny Hotel, our room is comfortable, I sorted the internet connection and we drove to Collieston to have our supper. A lovely sunny evening. Many more Auks and Fulmar than earlier. Back to the Ythan for a last scan before retiring to watch Eurovision (!). Still no sign of the King but a lovely rainbow sunset.

Couldn't decide which I liked best.
Man U managed a draw with Blackburn 1-1. CHAMPIONS.
Oh dear........Man City won the FA cup.

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