By the 6th Feb Gary and I had waited long enough and gave in to the callings of the Harlequin Duck in Aberdeen. Leaving North Walsham at Midnight we arrived at Seaton Park in Aberdeen around 9.15am after a short breakfast stop near Glasgow. Following the river Don upstream we were soon watching Goosander and some displaying Goldeneye. And after negotiating around a building site found the Harlequin Duck preening further upstream. We watched the bird at times diving at quite close quarters for around an hour before heading off through the Caingorms in search of some specialist Scottish wildlife. Looking at the map Glen Muick looks a good place to try as we have little knowledge of sites in the southern Cairngorms. We soon saw Raven, Red Grouse, Dipper, Hooded Crow, Mountain Hare and Red Deer. Not only were the views stunning but we also stumbled upon a Black Grouse lek to round it off. Driving back via Glen Shee ski centre we soon found a group of Ptarmigan and 40 + Red Grouse close to the road, despite the large numbers of people taking advantage of the snowy conditions. We then started the long drive home.
On the 8th Laura and I had a stroll around Felbrigg NT before a welcome hot soup in the cafe. Not a lot to report from the lake and meadows, the usual tits and finches, a group of c10 Skylark, 4 Mistle Thrush and a Snipe by the inlet stream.
Driving to work on the 18th a Woodcock flew through the lights outside the house as we waited, and on the 19th a Barn Owl was quartering the meadows just over the Coltishall Bridge. We are also now returning home in the semi-dusk and on 24th a total of 5 Woodcock were seen on the route home.
On the 27th after pottering at home I decided to walk a little bit of the patch but it was 11.00 before I headed off towards Pigney’s Wood. The Paston way along the railway line was rather quiet bar a few Blue and Great Tit. Behind the ‘Bluebell Wood’ quite a few Blackbird were about along with 3 Song Thrush. There’s been quite a bit of work at Pigney’s since my last visit with an area of Heathland creation, lots of work around the scrapes and the river has been dug out again. Because of this everywhere seemed muddy and few birds were about. The highlight of the walk was a flock of thrushes in a horse paddock off Little London with 10+ Redwing, 4 Mistle Thrush, 2 Song Thrush and numerous Blackbird.
Driving back from Cromer on 28th along a short stretch of road we saw a Kestrel, 2 Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and a Peregrine, quite a raptor fest. I also spotted my first Grey Partridge of the year in the same area.