Since moving house there has been 3 or 4 'mega' birds to try and twitch, but the move, work and other commitments have left Gary and i concentrating on our local patches. The American Coot has however remained near Inverness since Christmas and although 550 miles away proved one twitch to many to avoid. On Sunday night at 10.30pm Gary picked me up and we started the long drive north. Driving non-stop through the night (stopping only in Avimore, just before we ran out of fuel) we arrived in Inverness at 7.15am, bolted down a fried breakfast in Tescos and arrived at Loch Flemington around 8am. Pulling into the layby next to the Loch within seconds we has seen the American Coot in the margins just feet away. An anti-climax in a way, as 'megas' should not be this easy!
We waited around for the light to improve seeing, 20+ Bewick's Swan, a Great Northern Diver and 6+ Goldeneye. After a trying to tempt the AC closer with a sandwich, we took a few photos and headed off into the Highlands to look for a few Scottish specialties.
Driving back towards Avimore via Dulsie Bridge and Lochindorb, we saw Dipper, Peregrine and Red Grouse. At Loch Garten RSPB a man has set up some feeders in the carpark and invited us in close, we saw Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Chaffinch and Treecreeper at extremely close quarters. We then heard the call of a Crested Tit and shortly 3 stunning Crested Tit appeared a few feet in front of us.
Made up we headed off to Cairngorm, our last stop to look for Ptarmigan. Cairngorm Mountain was crazy, the railway and ski lifts were closed but without going higher than the carpark we experienced 90-100mph gusting winds and a wind chill of -12C. Hiding behind the car, we watched c20 Snow Bunting being blown around the carpark, before some how we found a small group of Ptarmigan, distant but still a nice bird to see.
Leaving Cairngorm around 1.30pm we arrived home just before midnight to complete our mad dash to Scotland.
Monday 16th July
2 hours ago