Sunday, 23 April 2017

Scotland the Brave - Part VII

From Fraserbugh it is no more than a 'stone throw' to the tiny hamlet of 
Crimmond on the Aberdeenshire Coast, 
and the neighbouring Wildlife Reserve that is
 Having spent many an interesting day here in past years while also turning
up a 'goodie' or two, 'scarce birds' on this particular trip were going to evade us.
No matter as there is always the site's signature bird to fall back on, the
TREE SPARROW
a joy to the average Dorset Birder in which County there are none.
 Views from the Visitor Centre window
with the
Loch of Strathbeg
in the deep distance.
 It may seem to the Reader that so many images and clips of these
video
Bonny Birds
may have reached 'overkill' proportions but,
 this personally was vying for 
Species of the Trip
video
but with the likes of
Black Grouse, Golden and White-tailed Eagle, Ptarmigan 
video
 and others in the mix that remains an impossible call.
It is hoped that you enjoy them, even as images, as much as we did!
Cutting our losses we beat an early retreat and headed for another large
Fishing Port
which, laid side by side with Fraserburgh, could easily be considered a twin.
Unlike its neighbour
PETERHEAD
has diversified into other Marine Fields such as
Ship Refits and Maintenance
and support to the
North Sea Oil Industry
part of which we found in port the 8,009 gross tonne
MULTI-PURPOSE OFF-SHORE VESSEL
BIBBY TOPAZ
along with other examples such as this

video
 SUPPLY VESSEL
 putting to sea
video
 Loading Fishing Nets
 (and just below another
video
Grey Seal)
while still being home to Great Britain's largest Fishing Fleet.
video
One of the smaller Trawlers
video
setting sail.
Even amid all of this clammer and clatter and with a ready supply of food
there is room for a variety of Wildlife, which we found while in pursuit
of other 'White-winged Gulls'.
HERRING GULLs
 nesting on rooftops and already incubating eggs.
 Yes, more
video
EIDER
 at a favoured 'preening station'.
video
 ATLANTIC GREY SEAL
 cruising around all parts of the dockyard basins,
video

and no call to 'crop' these images with the animals being so close!
Just a couple of examples of the 
Old Meeting the New
 CANNON and BALL oh and DAVE
The new
 FISH PROCESSING FACTORY
 towers above the old
Before the day closed, it was once again Dave who found the
'White-winger'
another 'immature' Glaucous Gull. Again it would have been preferred had it been an
Iceland Gull
but such things are not sent to order! We were satisfied, but take the opportunity
of showing a few images, from the archive, of an adult
GLAUCOUS GULL
 by comparison in size and bulk with the
Black-headed Gull (left)
Just before leaving this fine town, and typically given where we were, these few words
are penned in an attempt to dispel the myths and legends that suggest the
Jocks have Padlocks and Chains on their Purses. Told in a Jockanse accent:-
Having lived his whole life in this fine town, sadly James Reed had passed away
and it was now time for his wife to inform friends and family buy means of 
an obituary in the local News Paper.
Phoning the Echo she said to the lady at the other end, "Och aye the noo Aggie yee ken aboot the wee pennies n hapnies but I need te put a wee note in aboot Jim, just say".
'Jimmy Reed 'o' Peterheed is Deed'
and that should do the trick.
The deal was done, but a short time later the Echo phoned Mrs Reed to advise
that she had entered 6 words but for the same price could have 9, and did she wish to make an alteration?
"Aye" said Mrs Reed "best change it to,
'Jimmy Reed 'o' Peterheed is Deed - Volvo For Sale'
Our final port of call in Bonny Scotland was to be the Estuary of the River Ythan which meets the North Sea
just a few miles north of the Granite City, Aberdeen!
Our stay was short but here we found, or more accurately had pointed out
to us across the upper reaches a female
SMEW
(seen here below the image of a male for comparison)
before driving on to the mouth of the river where again there were lots of
SAND DUNES
video
video
and
video
EIDER

THE WATCHKEEPER
video
COMMON and ATLANTIC GREY SEAL
CREW CHANGE and SUPPLY HELICOPTER
video
I was in hiding just in case they had any ideas about taking me back to the rig!
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Friday, 21 April 2017

Scotland the Brave - Part VI

Unfortunately, it was time to say farewell to Jane and the wonderful
Mellon Patch
with our onward journey taking us back to the 
Morey Firth
of which we had planned to cover just about the full length before nightfall.
We did consider another crack at the King Eider, but as
"time and tide wait for no man"
we continued east along what seemed to be an everlasting string 
of tiny and mostly picturesque Fishing Villages.
First of these was Ardesier, perhaps better know for the
construction of and repair of off-shore Oil Rigs rather than delicate little chaps such as
 TREE SPARROW
 which we missed, due to the lateness of the hour, on a previous visit to the site
 when they had all gone to roost.
 As on that occasion, we were passing by anyway
 so no great discomfort to view this small little critters
now 'extinct' in Dorset!
It was no surprise either to see this
DIVE SHIP
waiting to enter harbour with her huge helicopter deck welded onto the top
of the bridge and sticking out like a huge proboscis.
In Nairn Bay we struck lucky on just a brief 'sea watch' with all of the 
3 more common Divers, and although we had recorded 
GREAT NORTHERN DIVER
 on our Cornwall trip earlier in the year, and
Red-throated Diver
on this the single addition to the Year List was
BLACK-THROATED DIVER
This neck-of-the-woods, like much of the rest of the Scottish Coast is
Eider-Ville
so it may be best to brace yourselves for some action from these
robust and stunning sea ducks.
 EIDER
video
 with some males displaying
video
and closer inshore
video
on the 'preening perches'.
As we had savoured the delight which is Portknockie earlier in the trip,
we gave it a wide berth settling instead for the rocky shoreline at
Burghead
where, back in 1994 my Great Britain List was blessed with the inclusion of the extremely rare
Grey-tailed Tattler.
It was thought highly unlikely that there would be any such luck today! 
However, there were a few Waders, only common fare but taking our minds off of Eider for a while.
video
CURLEW
video
CURLEW in company with REDSHANK
video
video
KNOT
and other shorebirds.
 There was also a small gathering of
COMMON SCOTER
(male)
further off-shore
(female)
Approaching Lossimouth and the Royal Air Force Station there, it was hoped that
we might get to see a few Jets buzzing about - but no!
The only aircraft open to view, and then behind a chain-link fence
was what looked every bit like a redundant
HAWKER SIDDELEY NIMROD
 Maritime Patrol Aircraft
and in a field close by a small gaggle of
video
PINK-FOOTED GEESE
on the ground for a change.
Closing Fraserbugh, our intended stop for the night and where the Firth meets the North Sea,
we found a few more Waders before arriving at the 
Sea Port Town.
video
video
OYSTERCATCHER
video
and another
REDSHANK
before commencing our search for 'White-winged Gulls' around the fish docks.
Plenty of free car parking hereabouts and nothing by way of restriction
should we have wished to drive around this 'work site', but the biggest shock for me
was the overall appearance of the harbour.
 During my many annual visits to this area it had historically been found to be,
what the locals here might describe as a 'MIDDEN' - a Rubbish Dump or Tip.
 Someone or something had certainly been brought to bear as the whole
place is now spick and span!
 During our wander a close encounter with an
ATLANTIC GREY SEAL
was a welcome experience but as is usual only the head could be seen.
video
TURNSTONE
also added to our delight but the light was beginning to fade as
Dave called me over from the other end of the pier.
 He had found a
video
GLAUCOUS GULL
video 
 which certainly fitted part of the bill
video
video
 but without wishing to sound either
ungrateful or ungracious
 an Iceland Gull would have suited us both much better
having seen Glaucous during our
Norfolk Campaign
in early March.
It will doubtless have been noticed that this bird was complete with a
Darvik type 'ring' on its right leg inscribed 
T:69S
and an unreadable metal  one on the other. 
Other Gulls in attendance were a lot of immature
GREAT BLACK-BACKED GULLS
showing at these close quarters just how big and brutish looking
they really are, but good value for all that.
We ended our day by looking over one of the bigger trawlers
registered at the port.
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