BIRDING TRIP & PHOTO REPORT:
Stephen Burch, England
This is a short
trip report, covering one evening and the next day's
birding on the Aberdeenshire coast, on 23/24 September
2009. Unlike my previous recent trips to this area, the
weather was actually quite good - almost completely dry
with even some sun from time to time!
visit, I generally visited similar sites to my February visit, but the different season made for some
interesting variations in the bird species seen.
turned out better for bird sightings than photography,
but those few pics shown below were taken with my Canon
EOS 50D camera and EF400mmf4 DO lens, usually with a x1.4
extender. See this page on equipment for more details.
This is a site
just to the north of Aberdeen that I have visited briefly
many times before - usually in the late afternoon before
catching a return flight from Aberdeen airport - it is
often possible to year tick both Eider
and Common Scoter in the distance
without even leaving the car! However, this time I spent
longer here on both the evening of the 23rd, and the late
afternoon of the 24th. On both occasions the light was
good, with the sun behind me, and I walked down to the
shore, and 'scoped the massed flocks of Eider
and Scoter from the crest of the dunes.
On the 23rd, in windy conditions, the highlight was a few
passing Arctic Skua, with plenty of Kittiwakes
and a few Gannets. I was also surprised
to see a Great Northern Diver, in
addition to the more expected Red-throated.
There were also a few Sanderling and Dunlin
on the beach.
On the 24th, it was
calmer, and a more prolonged study of the sea duck flocks
revealed eventually the adult male SURF SCOTER
in the extreme distance (first picked up in flight), as
well as several Velvet Scoter also seen
in flight. So all three Scoters in one
go! There were also a few Auks in with
the Eider flock.
Loch of Strathbeg
This is an RSPB
reserve that I visited with some success in February. This time, I went straight to the
visitor centre, but found any attempts at further Tree
Sparrow photography thwarted by a cordoned-off
section of the car park, and too much greenery around the
feeders. It was nice to see the birds still present
There were huge numbers
of distant Pink footed Geese viewable
from the visitor centre but little else, so I
decided to walk the seemingly long 700m to the Tower Pool
hide, which gave somewhat closer views of the Geese,
especially those flying by:
Pink-footed Goose at Loch of
Strathbeg (click to enlarge)
scanning of the massed ranks of Pink feet
(several thousand) eventually revealed in the white phase
SNOW GOOSE - right at the back of all
the flocks! There were also 2+ Barnacle Geese
around. So even in the 3rd week of September the geese
can be around in force.
Also seen from this hide
was the immature White-tailed Eagle,
which is apparently directly from the Tayside re-introduction
scheme and hence hardly tickable! Nevertheless an
impressive bird, but again too distant for any good pics.
introduced White-tailed Eagle at the Loch of
humble Curlew on the Ythan Estuary
Again I just
viewed the estuary from the convenient lay-bys on the A975,
on the north/east side. There was a large flock of Pink
footed Geese, and various common waders
including a single Knot, the odd Bar-tailed
Godwit and a large flock of Golden
This site just
outside Aberdeen was quieter than most of my previous
visits, with little of note on the sea. There was the odd
Wheatear about, the usual common waders,
but no sign of Purple Sandpipers (maybe
they arrive later in the season?).
So all in all a trip
with good birding and some photography, made more
pleasant by the good weather (for a change!).
© All pictures
copyright Stephen Burch