Light rain, sunshine and fairly calm. Short pre breakfast trip to Monnack Valley for 5 ring ouzels.
En route to Ken Dee we saw greylag, merlin, red kite, buzzard, skylark. At Ken Dee we spotted shoveller,wigeon, teal, canada geese, lapwing, nuthatch, great spotted woodpecker (H), willow warbler, meadow pipit, woodpigeon, chiff chaff and pied flycatcher.
Shoveller, oystercatcher, mute swan, redshank, black headed gull on Luce Bay.
During the trip we had been hearing reports of air traffic chaos due to an erupting Icelandic volcano. The volcanic ash was being blown over the UK and Europe causing dangerous flying conditions. We had heard that most of Europe had cancelled flights. We thought that many would be using the ferry as a means to get home but it wasn't obvious that there were extras on the boat. We had a great trip with easy going company and super weather. Thank you Garry for all the planning, your driving and your cheerful good humour.
A short dander to the Nethybridge produced a dipper, grey wagtail, siskin, blue tit, yellowhammer, great spotted woodpecker. There's an old railway line behind the houses which deserves a bit of investigation. Crossbills spotted along the road to Aviemore.
Searched the pinewoods near Loch Garten for crested tit but only saw treecreeper, coal tit, buzzard, siskin, gold crest, bluetit and chaffinch. A couple of the group saw crested tit at the Inverdruie fish farm. Casual visitors no longer welcome at the Inverdruie fish farm to see the ospreys feeding. Organised photography access and guided nature visits with the warden only. Tickets available at the Rothiemurchus visitors centre The gatekeeper in Loch an Eilein said the crested tits hadn't been seen for a week. Saw a red squirrel again. . Stopped at Aviemore Tesco for supplies then headed South.
House of Bruar 10m N of Pitlochry. Huge restaurant. Millions of people gnashing away!! Good shopping for cashmere, outdoor clothing, toys, antiques, deli and Clan Donaghy museum. Those who wish to can walk up to the Falls approx 2 miles. Robbie Burns has written about the Falls of Bruar.
Light drizzle.Next stop Errol on North bank of Firth of Tay. Errol is East of Perth, on the Firth of Tay. Drive through a farm yard East of Errol village and eventually come to a motocross track and a waterworks. Look over the largest commercial reedbeds in Britain. If you are lucky you can see bearded reedlings, bittern and marsh harrier. Some of us saw the former and everyone saw the latter.
Onwards to Leadhills and Mennock Pass for Ring Ouzels and eventually spotted four birds.... And it wasn't raining!!! And we spotted this strange looking human who proves that birders aren't the only oddities!!
Had a puncture in Dunkeld and called the RAC to help. The magnificent view over the nearby Spey produced goosander, grey wagtail, pair of common gulls, pair of sandmartins, goldcrest. Spent the night at Nethybridge hotel. Left at 7. 30pm to go to Loch an Eilein, on the Rothiemurchus estate, Aviemore to see Pine Marten and badger feeding on nuts and peanut butter. Really close views.
Some of the group fell out of bed at 4 am to go to the hide at Loch Garten. They were rewarded with views of capercailie, osprey, black grouse, tree pipit, red squirrel. After breakfast en route to Loch an Eilein we spotted an osprey, lapwing, oystercatchers and greylag. No sign of crested tit.
Onwards to Cairngorm where, by group agreement, we took the funicular car to the top. On the viewing platform, which was covered in snow and ice, we watched many skiers and snowboarders descending the slopes. Ptarmigan and snow bunting were quickly spotted on bare rocks.
We rewarded ourselves with a cuppa then headed on to Findhorn Valley. A detour after going through Tomatin allowed us to drive along the road towards Farr. Quite a number of red grouse were easily seen.
Then we drove on up the Findhorn Valley which has beautifulscenery. We didn't see any target birds but might have located golden eagle and ring ouzel. A buzzard displayed for some near the car.
After the Findhorn River we motored NE towards Burghead on the Moray Firth. Passing via Lochindarb where we saw an osprey. At the coast we had velvet scoter, eider and long tailed duck. An untidy skein of pink footed geese flew NW - about 70 birds.
The fish farm at Inverdruie in Aviemore was closed but standing in the car park we saw an osprey, long tailed tit, blue tit, chaffinch, great tit, green finch, siskins mating and some saw a crested tit.