Had a corking survey on the moray firth this past week. Very high numbers of birds were seen on site with over 30 Bonxies across the two days including a group of 6 and one was seen taking a Kittiwake out in mid-air. It then plunged on the water after the Kit and nothing was seen of the maritime going gull again. Red hot action. A few tysties and Manx Shearwaters joined the throng and a small skua was seen prior to survey but no id was managed from below deck. This was all well and good but I had already scored my first mammal lifer of the trip even before arriving in Buckie. About 20 Fallow Deer were amongst a larger group of Red Deer near Huntly on the train from Aberdeen. I have seen Fallow Deer before but only when I lived down south and im not sure they were outside deer parks. They are also largely absent from Yorkshire. A check of British Wildlife conveniently had a set of maps showing distribution of all six British deer species with a small blob east of the Cairn Gorms.
Back on the boat and the second of my mammal lifers quickly showed on a flat clam sea. We had seen a number of Harbour Porpoise and Grey Seals amongst the assembled gannets and auks but the leviathan revealed itself. Actually leviathan may be overcooking it a little as a very small Minke Whale surfaced having a good look at us with its head up at 100 m range. In fact an hour later we managed views of a bigger beast a very large Minke with a seemingly endless back. We were really pleased! The day was finished with a Common Seal catchig fish at our feet in Wick harbour. No cetaceans were managed the next day as the weather was interesting with persistant rain and choppy seas making it far from ideal. I did manage a year tick in Wick harbour amongst the Swallows(?) were 4 sea swallows calling away. Common Terns. Awesome. Rather bizarrely an enclosure in north Wick held 30 Wood and Mandarin Ducks plus Japanese Quail, rosellas and Cockatiels. Outdoors. In Wick. Brr. Also a bit bizarre back at Buckie the next evening a walk revealed the House Martins were back in...although it wasnt a year tick they arent in down here - what are these crazy birds doing? Its still winter on the firth. I did get a corking picture of a Bonxie but am waiting to edit it before it appears here. On the way back on the train from Keith to Glasgow we saw the Fallow Deer again including a quality stag with antlers on.