Saturday April 27
Well, we did make it to the Loch Garten Centre, a little late at 5.45 a.m. Unfortunately the Caper didn’t... well a male flew in out of sight of us and the cameras. We stayed an hour in the freezing cold, it was 0C, everything was white with frost, the mountains deep white from overnight snow. We sat and listened to a guide talking about Capercaillie whilst watching the best footage ever from 10 days ago, two males posturing and showing threatening behaviour towards each other without actually making contact. The norm apparently, although there are occasional fights. More Crested Tits on the feeders, this time on the ones at the Centre, vying with a Red Squirrel.
Time for Black Grouse. What !! OH NO !! The Tulloch Moor road had a new notice ‘ Road unsuitable for motor traffic, Private Road’. Definitely a no no for Pam. I was all for continuing, it didn’t say we couldn’t. So we turned round, Pam’s in charge of the car.
Next try is a site near Abernethy on the Tomintoul road. Success immediately. As we drove the area, a male Black Grouse rose from the land beside the car, flew parallel to
us for a while before crossing ahead of us and landing on a ridge. It’s a very narrow single track road so we could’nt stop to scope it. There is a pull-off but we couldn’t find any more grouse. Snow even at this level, not enough to cover the heather but plenty to cover the mountainside.
As we returned to Abernethy, a Short-eared Owl flew past a plantation and across the road out of view. Good views of both this morning’s birds.
The sun was out and visibility looked pretty good. Was it worth having another go at Ptarmigan? Tremendous amount of snow on the way up to Cairngorm , even the trees were heavily laden from the Reindeer Centre onwards.
The car park was absolutely heaving with skiiers, we decided not to join the mad throng and drove back to Loch Morlich where Pam tried out her add boiling water instant pot of Strawberry, Raspberry and Cranberry Porridge. It was surprisingly good.
Findhorn Valley is one of our favourite birding trips. It looked lovely in the sun. Nothing of note on the way to the car parking area but we weren’t waiting very long before a Golden Eagle soared the ridge directly in front of us. Lovely.
The wild goats were feeding roadside on the way back. I find them very photogenic and can’t resist taking their photographs, especially as there were some cute young.
A Hare stood still long enough for me to take one shot before rocketing away.
We rarely see anything on the Farr road, and to-day was no exception. Not even any Wheatears, everything is very late due to the wintry spring. Crested Tits on the feeders is unknown as late as this. Good for us but - not the lateness of everything else.
As we drew in to the small Ruthven car park, a Slavonian Grebe showed in a gap in the trees. No need to do that treacherous path climbing between tree roots and over boulders to the hide, thank goodness. Three Little Grebes and two Curlews later I suggested that we call it a day. We were up at 4.45 a.m. and it was nearly 4 in the afternoon before we were back in the chalet. We were both tired. I had to keep Pam awake, singing usually does it.
Shame Norwich lost to-day. Go Man U against Arsenal to-morrow, it will be a sickener for them to have to give the team, RVP in particular, a guard of honour.