Ive been away for the last six days and I have had some mega birds and marine mammals. Travelling up we managed 3 Ospreys in the Spey Valley and a Goshawk. Up on the moray firth we managed 120 Bonxies, 10 Arctic Skuas and a few Arctic Terns as well as a single Minke Whale and some incredible aggregations of Kittiwakes and 24 Great Northern Divers off of Buckie. We then traversed Scotland toward Islay with a couple of stops in Speyside including Grantown Woods where Crossbills were overhead (seemingly big ones) plus plenty of Siskins, Mistle Thrush, Redstart, Tree Pipit and a Cuckoo, the latter three all year ticks.
A quick detour to Loch Garten saw some lovely Red Squirrels, Common Sandpiper, Osprey around the nest and best of all a corking Capercaillie feeding on saplings! No photos but magic. We then crossed over the highlands to reach Islay via Fort William, Oban and Kintyre.
Yesterday we toured Islay and saw plenty of proper Rock Doves all over. A morning trip on the Oa saw Whinchat join the yearlist plus a few sightings of Ravens. We walked up to the American Monument to commerate the dead sailors washed ashore in 1918 after being torpedoed. A large passage of Swallows was going on and a few House Martins joined them as they flew ashore in force 6 winds off the Irish Sea. We then explored Bowmore and Port Charlotte before the boss went to pick up the rest of our team. Myself and another colleague shot across the sound of Islay to visit Jura and got point blank views of Red Deer (photos to follow). Once we returned we headed up to Loch Gruinart.
Almost immediately upon arriving I heard 'crex crex' and was fortunate to get brilliant views of a Corncrake, my best of this elusive rail showing clear as day. Immense. A trip to the hide gave up Whooper Swan and Greenshank amongst other bits and pieces but a calidrid kicking around with the Dunlin was just a big indvidual rather than the recent pec sand. We pushed off very happy.
Today was a quiet survey but for the pod of 12 Bottle-nosed Dolphins that were bow-riding the boat for 5 minutes. Bad pics to follow although I could have touched them. Incredible. These guys had a small calf with them and were well marked with pale flanks and an obvious cape.
Just a super few days...now for some small skuas tomorrow.