Last week I spent wednesday to saturday in the surrounds of the Moray firth. With Dave White. Dave was the new marine mammal observer (MMO). He is a rock'n'roll victim of the 1970s being a former drinking buddy of Keith Moons. He moved from almost making it as a rock star to being a driving instructor in Glasgow teaching Deacon Blue and Sharlene Spiteri to drive. Somehow this led to a move to Moray where he started working as an MMO. He is mad as a fox and looks like a cross between rhys ifans dad and bill nighy's brother. He is basically a legend. He illuminated the week and we giggled endlessly at his scurrilous stories. None of which I can reveal sadly.
Onto the birds...
On the way up we had around 1000 Pink-footed Geese west of Aberdeen (we went on the train for a change). We also managed a Red Kite here along with good numbers of Buzzards. We arrived at dusk at Buckie and promptly hit the pub for some dinner.
An early steam out of Buckie meant that I woke up in the middle of the Beatrice oilfield. A few bits and pieces out there on the first day included overflying Pinkfeet, Meadow Pipits, Carrion Crow & a few probable Redpoll. A handful of Puffins were seen on survey along with the regulars. Large numbers of Kittiwakes were on site. As we finished and headed to Wick we managed a few Tysties and a Long-tailed Duck guarding the harbour. A party of Goldeneye froliced on the river. We had a walk up so that Ray could see some Estuarine Sedge - very rare apparently. It didnt really spark my botany interests. We did manage a couple of Hoody hybrids along with a few Teal, Wigeon, Oystercatcher, Redshank and Grey Heron.
The second days survey was more interesting as we had 4 Golden Plover, 2 Greylags, some unidentified passerines, large numbers of common stuff and big movements of Pinkfeet. The best was at least two Bonxies who kept bothering the Kittiwakes. Porpoises were seen regularly throughout the trip and both species of seal made the mammal count a healthy three. At the end of the survey I headed below for a nap as we had a three hour steam back to Buckie. I woke up to whoops and hollers as I missed the last of three sightings of Minke Whale - a mammal lifer to be as I have only seen a brief probable. I did manage about a dozen Great Northern Diver including a few in summer plumage. More summer plumage fare was to follow with 3 Red-throated Divers with red-throats and a pair of very brown looking sumplum Long-tailed Duck. A few Eider were bobbing around the harbour with a Grey Heron surveying the scene. We legged it in the morning early doors and thus saw very little.
BTW over my house(ish) in the last week there have Common Crane(3), Osprey(multiple) and White-tailed Eagle(uncountable even for the garden list). How many have I seen? Zero obviously. Doh.
Photos to follow as they are on the work DSLR. On the way to Islay on tuesday for 5 days.