Saturday, 9 April 2011

Laide to Fraserborough via Ullapool Again

Today was always going to be mainly about 'driving' as it was our hope to get from the furthest north west point of our journey, to within striking distance of the east coast. Before any of this though, there was a small matter of trying to sea White-tailed Sea-Eagle before we left.

Our night at The Olde Smiddy in Laide village had been comfort itself, and with breakfast on hold by 06:40 we were stood here watching the sun rise. This lay-by is situated just a mile or two from the village and directly opposite

Gruinard Island, which this morning wasn't being particularly photogenic. At about 2 miles distance any bird would be difficult to see, but in the past I have had them fly directly overhead. Today all we saw was what looked like the silhouette of an Eagle perched on a rock, but not with a lot of conviction on our part. We did however see a distant Black Guillemot, that not only allowed Dave to catch up with me on the 'list' but also add a bird to his life total. This done, it was back for the pre-booked 08:00 breakfast after which with the weather conditions remaining the same (sunny, warm and windless) we made a decision to head back to Ullapool. Last night on the Rare Birds Alert there was a mention of a 1st winter Glaucous Gull on the very estuary we visited yesterday, and for a 24 mile detour this was well worth burning off a bit more petrol.

Once there, we searched the Fish Quay without success and on the way to the river mouth we noted skein after skein of Pink-footed Geese heading to the north.

We tried, again in vane, to sort out a 'white one' (Snow Goose) among the 100's of departing birds, but like the Gull that will will have to wait for another day!

There were of course other birds to look at, and this small group of Wigeon in company with a Lesser Black-backed Gull were worthy of a second look,

as were a 'courting' pair of Ringed Plover that were carrying out some kind of 'pebble carrying' ritual.

This pair of Oystercatchers too were doing a bit of puckering up

with the 'Auld Lad wing stretching and sounding off, but the best sight here was of

at least c4 Black Guillemot a little closer to land.

Not David Bailey stuff, but an identifiable image, but unfortunately all the shots of an immaculate Red-throated Diver in 'full summer plumage' we blurred beyond viewing.

We took a few moments before leaving to admire the flowering Gorse before setting a course south.

Nearing the Kessock Bridge we decided to take another look at the Tollie Red Kites, which were to be fed at 14:30 it wasn't worth the wait. If i mention RSPB, regular readers will get the picture and here today was an example of that. With the indiscipline (dogs off leads, people standing out-with the screens, constant chatter et al) your pet Budgie wouldn't come down to feed. I did convey my concerns to the lady pictured but she seemed to have the answers, so I'll call in again to see how they are getting on maybe next year!

Turning onto the Aberdeen road, which runs the length of the Moray Firth, we called in at Buckie where on a shingle bar just off-shore

a group of c24 Sandwich Terns were resting after a long flight, while there were

c3 Bar-tailed Godwit just a little further along.

Further along the coast, and seeing the sign to Portknockie, I couldn't resist the temptation to pay a brief visit to conjure up a few memories. The following 3 photographs are more for my dear friend Andy Lindsay's than anything else as we enjoyed some fabulous time in this small, quaint little fishing village.

We needed this establishment after we had finished at

this one, but as our Store Keeper on the Stena Hunter Oil Rig wasn't keen to drink there we were all happy to move on to the

pub next door. The reason we rarely drank in the Seafield was because Lorraine Gribben's parents owned it (she was our Store Keeper). Now, I bet you remember ALL of that don't you ANDREW????

The coastline here is dramatic to say the least, with this formation giving me the impression of either a Hawaiian canoe with out-rigger, or an elephant taking a drink? Either way we added a couple more species to the Trip List, with Kittiwake having a small colony on the 'trunk'.

Nesting Fulmar also have a toe-hold here,

there are a colony of Shags on this rock and those with sharp eyes may just be able to see an Eider Duck or two. Of note, these were the first adult male Eiders Dave has ever seen, and I can report he was mighty impressed!

The 'Trip List' stands at 87

No comments:

Post a Comment