Thursday, 22 April 2010

Spectacular Speyside

This blog post is about my epic three days of birdwatching in Speyside.

Friday 16th April
The days started off with the long drive north to Speyside to begin our three days of birding. The best birds of the day we had on the way to Speyside! As we were going though Lothian I spotted an Osprey from the bus window and we had quite good views as it flew over the bus and we also had good views of another the headed away in a different direction. We got up to Speyside late in the afternoon and headed straight for the Cairngorm mountains, we scopes them and picked up a single male Ring Ouzel as well as Red Grouse and as we left a Raven. Sadly no Ptarmigan! I wasn’t surprised but was disappointed. From here we had a go for Crested Tits but sadly dipped on these and only got a whole load of Chaffinches and a single Siskin calling.

Saturday 17th April
A nice early start after about 1 hour of sleep and I was up at about 3:30-4:00 in the morning. We headed for the Capercaillie lek at Loch Garten RSPB. As soon as we got into the hide they had already located a male Capercaillie displaying and I had some cracking views (though distant) as he displayed and had a wander about, although brief I did get some cracking views of it as it walked about. Also we had the two Ospreys at Loch Garten. From here we went to try for the Crested Tits at Loch Mallachie and I had good views of 1 Crested Tit as well as fleeting glimpses at other possible Crested Tits. From here we headed for the Cairngorms, we climbed to the summit and we didn’t see a single bird. We headed back down to the top centre and we asked the person where the Ptarmigan where and he said they were quite a distance away and that there were sadly no Ptarmigans. We started heading down the mountain when one of the lads on the tip shouted me and a few others back. We came running back up through the waist deep snow and there was a cracking male Ptarmigan sitting behind a rock. We then found 2 more sitting a little bit further away, however the first one that was found was much closer and we got some cracking views of it. I also spotted what I thought was a plastic bag that had blown away from the ski centre but it was actually a fully white Ptarmigan! So we saw 5 Ptarmigan overall but sadly no Polar Bears. On the way to the next locations we had an adult male Goshawk displaying from the bus window!

We headed on from here and went to go and see the 2 summer plumage Black-throated Divers. What an absolutely stunning bird these were. We also had a summer plumage Red-throated Diver and Common Sandpiper whilst at this location. We also went to Loch Ruthven were I had cracking views of Slavonina Grebes as well as 1 Osprey and 3 Sky dancing Hen Harriers! I missed a Peregrine falcon here but that didn’t really matter. We then headed for the Short-eared Owls and were rewarded with views of the birds really high up wing clapping! Our final stop was for the Black Grouse and we had 1 female briefly. What a cracking day and by far the best days birding I have ever had.

Sunday 18th of April
We got up at about 6:00 and we headed for the Crested Tits and again I had at least 1 Crested Tit, the views were not as good as Saturday but I still saw it. We then headed for the Ospreys at a site were the nest is really close to the path and I had fantastic really close views of the birds. I headed back to the bus after watching them and we were informed a Golden Eagle had just been seen! I had good but distant views of the Golden Eagle as it soared about being mobbed by a Goshawk! We then left Speyside and headed for Musselburgh were we had 1 White Wagtail, a few Velvet Scoter, and 2 Long-tailed Duck. All in all a cracking three days birding.

I hope you enjoy the photos and thanks to everyone who has allowed my to post there photos here on my blog.
(The Lads - I'm 4th from right)

(Osprey - Andrew Kinghorn)

(Crested Tit - Derek Charlton)

(Osprey - Derek Charlton)

(1 of the 5 Ptarmigan - Derek Charlton)

Life List Updates:
235 – Capercaillie – 1 male at Loch Garden RSPB
236 – Crested Tit – at least 3 at Loch Mallachie
237 – Ptarmigan - 5 at the Cairngorm Mountains

Year List Updates (not in order):
152 – Osprey – 2 in Lothian on way to Speyside!
153 – Black-throated Diver – summer plumage but can’t remember name of the location.
154 – Slavonian Grebe – Loch Ruthven RSPB
155 – Long-tailed Duck – Musselburgh in Lothian
156 – Velvet Scoter - Musselburgh in Lothian
157 – Ptarmigan - 5 at the Cairngorm mountains
158 – Capercaillie – 1 male at Loch Garden RSPB
159 – Common Sandpiper – same place as Black-throated Divers.
160 – Crested Tit – at least 3 at Loch Mallachie


  1. What a fantastic trip! I hope to have such success when I go up that way in the next couple of months. Some fantastic pictures you and your friend have taken there and some very good birds seen. Well done mate.


  2. Hi Joseph,

    Thanks for the kind comments. I hope you see all the birds as well.

  3. Good stuff Andrew, but no Polar Bears! You surely weren't looking properly! :-)
    I think I need a trip back up there. Great area. Cheers. Brian.

  4. Take it you saw Dave Sexton's April Fools on Birdguides with the polar bear on Mull? Thought you should have had snow camo mind, lol