Stephen Burch's Birding & Dragonfly Website
SCOTLAND ABERDEENSHIRE COAST,
18 February 2009
By Stephen Burch, England
As on both my previous trips in 2007 and 2006, the weather was poor. The TV weather forecast in the morning said Scotland would be essentially dry this day. At that time it was in fact raining with heavy mist! The mist gradually lifted, but rain or drizzle persisted for much of the day. There was little or no sunshine, that I can remember.
All photos were taken with a Canon EOS350D & EF400mmf5.6 (prime) lens, due to temporary problems with my 40D/400mmf4 DO combination. In fact the f5.6 proved to be an excellent travel lens, with quite reasonable results despite the poor conditions. See page on equipment for more details.
Other birds at this site included a nice male Long-tailed Duck and Red Breasted Merganser in the nearby Nigg Bay (view from convenient overlooking car park with narrow entrance), Red-throated Diver out to sea, Fulmar and of course omnipresent Eider.
On the road, there was a Rock Pipit that seemed oblivious to me in the car:
Miekle Loch is reachable down a track to the west of the A975. On a previous visit there had been numerous geese of several different species (including a glimpse of a Snow Goose) here. Today it was almost entirely barren with nothing apart from the odd Goldeneye.
Loch of Strathbeg
The hide attached to the visitor centre looks over a nearby section of the loch, which had common duck and geese in the fields beyond. There was unfortunately no sign of the Snow Goose that had been seen recently in the area. The helpful warden suggested trying the other hides, reached by going back to the main road, and then taking the airfield road. Unlike my last visit several years ago, there is now a special RSPB track which bypasses the closed MOD area, making access to the two hides easier. The Bay Hide gave very distant views of a few Whooper Swan on the far side of the loch, with even more distant geese, that included several Barnacle - probably my favourite goose and not one I catch up with very often, living in the south of England.
So all in all a quite reasonable day's birding and photography, despite the weather.
© All pictures copyright Stephen Burch