Peregrine Bird Tours
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Peregrine Bird Tours

PEREGRINE BIRD TOURS


THE SCOTTISH HIGHLANDS AND ISLANDS

23 JUNE - 10 JULY 2014

TOUR REPORT



Our tour to the Scottish Highlands and Islands was a most enjoyable tour and thanks to the very capable leadership of Russell, it went smoothly from beginning to end. The weather was surprisingly good, the accommodation was good throughout and the food excellent, especially the haggis and black pudding! Just some of the many highlights of the tour included four stunning, very close Red-throated Loons, in full breeding plumage, on a small loch on the island of Hoy, the many nesting seabird cliffs we visited were a real treat, the Whooper Swan was an unexpected bonus, the Golden Eagles in the Findhorn Valley were a real treat, Hen Harriers and Short-eared Owls, quartering the moorland and farmland on the Orkneys was sensational, to see the waders in full breeding plumage was particularly memorable, Twite are hard to find anywhere in the world and scope views of Scottish Crossbills, Britain's only endemic bird, is almost unheard of. However, perhaps the greatest highlight of them all, was seeing the three Arctic tundra specialities, of the Scottish Highlands, Rock Ptarmigan, Eurasian Dotterel and Snow Bunting, memories that will last a lifetime. We did exceptionally well for mammals, non more so, that the super looks we enjoyed, of the rarely observed Pine Martin.

Members of the tour group arrived at Edinburgh airport, where they met up with the local guide Russell, who was to drive and guide us throughout our time in Scotland. Unfortunately, I missed my flight from London, and caught up with the group later in the afternoon. From Edinburgh airport the group drove to Aberlady Bay and did some birding before continuing on to North Berwick, for a boat trip around Bass Rock, where a staggering 11,000 pairs of Northern Gannets breed. I then joined the group for a second visit that day to Aberlady Bay, on the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. Birds observed that day at Aberlady Bay included a family party of Little Grebes, Grey Heron, Mute Swan, large flocks of Greylag Geese, a few Common Shelducks, Mallard, a stunning Eurasian Sparrowhawk, Eurasian Coot, Eurasian Oystercatcher, Northern Lapwing, Common Redshank, Eurasian Curlew, a solitary Whimbrel, a surprise find, at this time of year, Black-headed, European Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, Rock Dove, our only Stock Dove of the tour, Common Wood-Pigeon, Eurasian Collared-Dove, Common Swift, Common Skylark, Common Sand and House Martins, Barn Swallow, Meadow Pipit, White Wagtail, European Robin, Common Blackbird, Common Whitethroat, Willow Warbler, Great Tit, Common Magpie, Western Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow, Common Starling, House Sparrow, Common Chaffinch, European Goldfinch, European Greenfinch, Eurasian Bullfinch and Common Reed Bunting. We also saw our first of many Western Roe Deer.

Along with thousands of Northern Gannets during the boat trip around Bass Rock, we also saw Northern Fulmar, Great Cormorant, European Shag, Common Eider, Great Black-backed Gull, Black-legged Kittiwake, the delightful Atlantic Puffin, Common Guillemot and Razorbill. We also observed a number of Grey Seals swimming around the island. We spent the night at nearby Gullane.

The following day we spent a very pleasant morning birding at the RSPB reserve at Lock Leven. Lock Leven has one of the largest breeding populations of ducks in Britain. We were not to be disappointed, new birds here included our only Great Crested Grebes of the tour, a few Gadwall, a small flock of Eurasian Wigeon, a large flock of Eurasian Teal, good numbers of Tufted Ducks, our first of many sightings of Common Buzzard, Common Moorhen, Dunnock, Sedge Warbler, Blue Tit, our only sighting of the very uncommon Eurasian Tree Sparrow, Common Linnet and Eurasian Siskin. We also saw our first European Rabbit of the tour.

In the afternoon we headed north, towards the famous Scottish Highlands. We stopped along the way to do some birding at Moulin Moor, where we enjoyed good looks at our first Common Kestrel and super scope views of a perched Peregrine Falcon. We also enjoyed good close looks at a few Willow Ptarmigans and several Mistle Thrushes. We then drove to Kindrogan Field Centre, near Pitlochry, where we were to stay for the night. A little birding in the grounds of the lodge turned up Common Pheasant, Common Gull, Great Spotted Woodpecker, our only Grey Wagtails of the tour, both Spotted and European Pied Flycatchers and Russell and myself saw a pair of Common Crossbills in flight, as we were parking the mini-van. We also saw the very attractive Red Squirrel at the feeders and just on dusk, we were rewarded with good looks at a superb Pine Martin and a Wood Mouse, at a feeding station, in the grounds of the lodge. Ken saw Common Pipistrelles, flying around the field centre.

The following morning we undertook a little more birding in the grounds of the lodge, where we saw a Eurasian Wren, enjoyed great looks at a singing Garden Warbler, saw Coal Tits at the feeders and Russell and Michael saw the only Blackcap of the tour. We then continued northwards towards the Scottish Highlands, but not before doing some birding in the Killiecrankie Nature Reserve, where a walk along the river produced our only Goosander of the tour and we also found the only Eurasian Jay of the tour, looking for food below one of the bird feeders. Following our picnic lunch at Killiecrankie, we drove to our accommodation in Speyside, in the famous Scottish Highlands, where we settled in, before engaging in a little more birding in the afternoon. Our first birding stop was at the RSPB reserve at Loch Insh, where we saw a Common Goldeneye, discovered a breeding pair of Ospreys and saw our first Common Sandpipers of the tour. We then visited a small loch called Avielochan, where we found two breeding pairs of the very rare Slavonian Grebe.

The long term weather forecast was not particularly good, the weather was to steadily deteriorate, during our time in the Highlands and we made the decision to make the walk to the top of the Cairngorm Mountains the following day, in order to search for the three Arctic tundra specialities of the Scottish Highlands, Rock Ptarmigan, Eurasian Dotterel and the aptly named Snow Bunting. A quick look at the small stream that flows through Nethy Bridge, where we were staying, produced a splendid White-throated Dipper and during the short drive to the Cairngorm Mountains National Park, we saw a Song Thrush along the roadside. At first the weather was kind to us, as we trudged steadily onwards and upwards, but on arriving on the tops the weather began to deteriorate and a heavy mist settled all around us and visibility was down to a few metres. So we made the decision to make a halt and eat our picnic lunch and hope that the mist lifted while we were doing so. As we sat there we became very cold, however, fortunately for us, the mist did rise, and we made a quick commando-style raid up onto Caenlochan, where we where immediately rewarded with great looks at a pair of Rock Ptarmigan, in recently acquired spring plumage. As we continued our search, we flushed a covey of five more Rock Ptarmigans, that where so well camouflaged amongst the heather, we never saw them until they took flight. Right on queue, we stumbled onto a small flock of Eurasian Dotterels and not wanting to disturb them, enjoyed fairly distant, but good looks at them. We then headed for a large patch of nearby snow, which is the preferred habitat of Snow Bunting. At first it looked quite empty, then suddenly a stunning male Snow Bunting, flew above the patch of snow, in pursuit of a small insect and we watched a small flock of these super birds, for quite some time. On the mammal front, we did enjoy watching a few Mountain Hares. Mission accomplished; we trudged back down the mountain, after a very tough but rewarding day in the fabulous Scottish Highlands.

The following morning, after breakfast, a walk through ancient pine forests in the Anagach Forest produced fine looks at the diminutive Goldcrest, the highly localised Crested Tit, and a Field Vole, ran across the track in front of us. In the afternoon we made a visit to Lochindorb Loch, where we found a female Northern Wheatear perched on some discarded fencing wire and a pair of Common Redpolls flew over our heads. On our way home, a quick stop at Ellen Wood, close to Carrbridge, produced our first Eurasian Treecreeper.

The following day, our first birding stop was at the famous Loch Garten RSPB reserve, where new bird for us included a fine Common Cuckoo and the beautiful Common Redstart. Careful observation of the ground below the bird feeders, produced splendid looks at two new species of mammals, a Bank Vole, and the rarely observed Common Shrew. Continuing onwards, a stop at Loch Morlich, produced a fairly distant Red-throated Loon and in the car park of the Cairngorm Mountains National Park, we watched a breeding pair of the decidedly uncommon Ring Ouzel.

The whole of the next day was spent birding in the scenically attractive Findhorn Valley, bathed in beautiful, and much appreciated, sunshine. Here we found a superb Red Kite flying above our heads, a covey of very colourful Red-legged Partridges, a pair of far less common Grey Partridge, a pair of displaying Common Snipe, several Common Terns and best of all, a pair of immature Golden Eagles flying across the valley. We also enjoyed distant views of a large number of Red Deer. We then continued north, leaving the Highlands behind, before stopping at the Cromarty Firth, where we found a large gathering of Common Seals, which had hauled themselves out onto nearby sand banks. We spent the night at nearby Alness.

The following day we met up with Clare, who was to be our local guide for the day, and we set off to do some birding in a forested area, close to Boath. Here we enjoyed good looks at Hooded Crow,
several splendid Yellowhammers and best of all, a delightful Tree Pipit. We then did a little birding along the edge of Cromarty Firth, where to our delight, we observed a family party of adult Stoats, with well grown young, not more than a few metres away from us. We then drove out to Tarbat Ness, where some time spent sea-watching produced a pair of Common Scoters and in the surrounding bracken, we found a splendid pair of Common Stonechats. Continuing northwards along the coast, we stopped to fill up our mini-van with diesel, where we cornered a rather hapless House Mouse, along the outside wall of the service station. A final birding stop at Loch Fleet National Nature Reserve, produced a solitary Bar-tailed Godwit amongst a very large roosting flock of well over 200 Eurasian Curlews. We then spent the night a little further to the north at Golspie.

The following morning we made a visit to Balblair Wood, our main aim here was to see the Scottish Crossbill, Britain's only endemic bird. Within half an hour or so, we were enjoying outstanding scope views of a flock of five immature Scottish Crossbills, some were preening while others were feeding on pine cones. We had been extremely fortunate, it is not a species that you would expect to be able to see in the scope. While walking along a track in the same area of woodland, a Weasel ran across the track, just a few metres ahead of us. In the afternoon, we made a visit to a different part of Lock Fleet National Nature Reserve and new birds for our ever growing trip list, included a couple of Red-breasted Mergansers, a beautiful Dunlin in full breeding plumage, a large flock of Sandwich Terns and our first of many Arctic Terns. Unfortunately, the weather then changed dramatically, and in strong winds and constant heavy rain, we drove through the Flow Country, to Thurso, on the far north coast of Scotland, where we spent the night.

The following morning we boarded the car ferry at nearby Scrabster, for our boat trip to the spectacular Orkney Islands. While still in the harbour, we saw our first Black Guillemots of the tour. During the one and a half hour crossing, we saw six Manx Shearwaters, several Great Skuas and I saw a Northern Minke Whale. On our arrival at the Orkneys, at Stromness, we drove to nearby Kirkwall, the main town of the Orkneys, which would be our base during our time in the Orkney Islands. In the afternoon, we visited the Cottisgarth RSPB Reserve, where we sat in the hide, which overlooks a large stretch of high moorland. New birds for the tour included Hen Harrier, Arctic Skua, Common Raven and we also enjoyed much better looks at Common Cuckoo. Moving on, we paid a visit to the small coastal village of Evie, where we found a couple of Common Ringed Plovers. We then did some birding at Birsay Moor, where we watched a stunning Short-eared Owl, hunting for voles above the open farmland, it was a super look, at a very special bird. Our final birding stop was at the Loons RSPB Reserve, where we found two new species of wildfowl, Northern Shoveler and Common Pochard. We also saw a new mammal today, the lovely Brown Hare.

The following day we continued birding on the Mainland Island of the Orkneys; visiting the Lock of Harry, where we found six Black-tailed Godwits, in full breeding plumage. We also visited the historical sites of the Stones of Stenness and the Ring of Brodgar. We then paid a visit to Newark Bay, where we enjoyed very close looks at a pair of Rock Pipits.

The following day, we took the car ferry to the Island of Hoy, there is less agricultural land on this island and far more moorland. We drove to the main settlement on the island, Rackwick, and it was here that we found the only new bird of the tour for the day, the diminutive Twite. Fortunately, we managed to enjoy very close scope views, of a pair of birds, as they were eating the seeds, on a large plant.

After breakfast the following day, we birded around the small village of Birsay, where Ken pointed out a Red Knot, in full breeding plumage. This was a real treat for Australian birders, who only see this species in Australia, in non-breeding plumage. In the afternoon we drove to Tankerness Loch, where a thorough search of a very large flock of Mute Swans, produced an adult Whooper Swan. This was a great find, as this bird should have been on its breeding grounds in Iceland!

On the final day of the tour we visited the islands of Burray and South Ronaldsay, but failed to add a new bird to our trip list, but Aileen did observe a Brown Rat.

On this very enjoyable tour, we observed 131 different species of birds and 19 species of mammals. The tour had achieved its goal; we had indeed observed almost all of the birds of the Scottish Highlands and Islands and had a very enjoyable time while doing so.





SYSTEMATIC LIST

LOONS GAVIIDAE
Red-throated Loon Gavia stellata An uncommon breeding summer visitor, we saw it in the
Scottish Highlands, on the ferry crossing to the Orkneys, and best of all, on a small loch, on
the island of Hoy.

GREBES PODICIPEDIDAE
Little Grebe Tachybaptus ruficollis A common breeding bird throughout Scotland, which we only
saw on two occasions. Firstly, at Aberlady Bay, and secondly, at Tankerness Loch.
Slavonian Grebe Podiceps auritus In Britain the Slavonian Grebe only breeds on a few lochs in
the Scottish Highlands, where it is a rare, summer breeding visitor. We saw a couple of breeding pairs at Avielochan, in the Scottish Highlands.
Great Crested Grebe Podiceps cristatus An uncommon breeding species in Scotland, we saw a
few birds at the Loch Leven RSPB Reserve.

PETRELS AND SHEARWATERS PROCELLARIIDAE
Northern Fulmar Fulmarus glacialis A hundred years ago, Northern Fulmars barely had a
toehold in Britain. They bred only on the island of St. Kilda, the furthest north island of the
Outer Hebrides. It is now a common breeding bird throughout the whole of Britain, with
the exception of the southeast corner. We enjoyed super close looks at this species nesting
on sea cliffs throughout the tour.
Manx Shearwater Puffinus puffinus This species is an uncommon summer breeding visitor, in the Scottish Outer Hebrides and Shetland Islands. We were very fortunate to observe six individuals during the ferry crossing, from Scrabster, to the Orkney Islands. On the return crossing, Russell and I did not see any!

GANNETS AND BOOBIES SULIDAE
Northern Gannet Morus bassanus A common breeding summer visitor to offshore islands of
Scotland, we saw it well on many occasions, particularly so, during the boat trip around
Bass Rock.

CORMANTS PHALACROCORACIDAE
Great Cormorant Phalacrocorax carbo A common breeding resident throughout Scotland, which
we saw well on many occasions.
European Shag Phalacrocorax aristotelis A fairly common breeding resident throughout
Scotland, this species only occurs on the coast, where we frequently saw it very well.

HERONS, EGRETS AND BITTERNS ARDEIDAE
Grey Heron Ardea cinerea A common breeding resident, we observed small numbers throughout
the tour.

SWANS, GEESE AND DUCKS ANATIDAE
Mute Swan Cygnus olor A common breeding resident throughout Scotland, we saw small flocks
throughout the tour and then a particularly large flock, of over 200 birds at Tankerness Loch,
in the Orkney Islands.
Whooper Swan Cygnus cygnus An uncommon winter visitor to the east coast of Scotland and the
Orkney Islands. Therefore, it was very much a surprise to find an individual of this species
amongst the large flock of Mute Swans, at Tankerness Loch, in the Orkney Islands.
Greylag Goose Anser anser A common breeding resident in Scotland, we enjoyed watching adults
with goslings, on a few occasions.
Common Shelduck Tadorna tadorna A common resident in Scotland, which we saw well on
several occasions.
Eurasian Wigeon Anas penelope In Britain this species is mainly a winter visitor, from breeding
grounds in Iceland, Russia and Siberia. In the Scottish Highlands and the Orkneys it breeds
in small numbers on isolated lochs, where we saw it well on a few occasions.
Gadwall Anas strepera In Britain this species is also mainly a winter visitor, from breeding
grounds in Iceland and continental Europe. It breeds in small numbers in southeastern
Scotland, where we saw a pair very well at the Loch Leven RSPB Reserve. We also saw
small numbers in the Orkneys.
Eurasian Teal Anas crecca In Scotland this is a resident breeding species, we saw it well both on
the mainland and in the Orkneys.
Mallard Anas platyrhynchos This species is a very common resident throughout Scotland.
Northern Shoveler Anas clypeata An uncommon resident in Scotland, we observed small
numbers at The Loons RSPB Reserve, in the Orkneys.
Common Pochard Aythya ferina This species is also an uncommon resident in Scotland and once
again, a pair of birds was observed very well at the The Loons RSPB Reserve, in the
Orkneys.
Tufted Duck Aythya fuligula A common resident species in Scotland, which we saw on several
occasions.
Common Eider Somateria mollissima A common resident species along the coasts of Scotland,
which we saw very well, on many occasions.
Common Scoter Melanitta nigra Mainly an uncommon winter visitor to Scotland. We were very
fortunate to observe a single bird close inshore, off Tarbat Ness.
Common Goldeneye Bucephala clangula Mainly a winter visitor to Britain, up to 10,000
Common Goldeneye spend the winter in Britain. Small numbers now regularly breed on lochs in the Scottish Highlands, where we saw small numbers.
Red-breasted Merganser Mergus serrator An uncommon resident bird throughout Scotland,
which we saw well on a few occasions.
Goosander Mergus merganser Another uncommon resident of Scotland, we were very fortunate
to enjoy good looks at a pair of birds swimming on the river that flows through the
Killiecrankie Nature Reserve.

OSPREY PANDIONIDAE
Osprey Pandion haliaetus In Britain the Osprey nests only in the Highlands of Scotland, and only in very small numbers. We saw it very well on five separate occasions throughout the tour.

KITES, EAGLES AND HAWKS ACCIPITRIDAE
Red Kite Milvus milvus In the 1960s just a handful of Red Kites were hanging on in Britain, in a
remote valley in central Wales. This species has been a great conservation success story.
Following a great deal of hard work by the RSPB and other bodies, it now occurs in small
numbers throughout the British Isles. Even so, we were very fortunate to observe a single
bird flying directly overhead, during our time in the beautiful Findhorn Valley.
Hen Harrier Circus cyaneus This species is an increasingly uncommon breeding resident in
Britain. In England, there were only two breeding pairs this year, unfortunately, both were
unsuccessful. There are approximately 200 breeding pairs in Wales and Scotland. They are
more common on the Orkney Islands, than anywhere else in Britain and we observed small
numbers on a daily basis.
Eurasian Sparrowhawk Accipiter nisus This species is a common resident in Scotland,
somewhat surprisingly, we enjoyed six sightings of this species during the tour.
Common Buzzard Buteo buteo This species is a very common resident in Scotland, which we
observed on most days of the tour.
Golden Eagle Aquila chrysaetos An uncommon breeding resident of Scotland, we were very
fortunate to observe two immature birds, flying together, in the Findhorn Valley.

CARACARAS AND FALCONS FALCONIDAE
Common Kestrel Falco tinnunculus This species is a common resident in Scotland, which we
saw well on several occasions.
Peregrine Falcon Falco peregrinus This species is an uncommon resident in Scotland, which
somewhat surprisingly, we saw well on four separate occasions.

GROUSE, PTARMIGANS AND PRAIRIE-CHICKENS TETRAONIDAE
Willow Ptarmigan Lagopus lagopus A common resident in Scotland, which we saw exceptionally
well on several occasions.
Rock Ptarmigan Lagopus muta In Britain this uncommon resident is confined to the highest
mountains of Scotland, where they occur only on the highest, most barren mountain tops and
are seldom seen below 750 metres. We were very fortunate to enjoy good close looks at
several of these birds at Caenlochan, high in the Cairngorm Mountains National Park.

PARTRIDGES AND PHEASANTS PHASIANIDAE
Red-legged Partridge Alectoris rufa Ancestors of the British stock were introduced into southern
England, from France, over 200 years ago. Since that time, they have been spreading slowly
northwards and have only recently reached the Highlands of Scotland. We enjoyed good
sightings of a few birds in the Findhorn Valley.
Grey Partridge Perdix perdix An increasingly uncommon resident throughout Scotland. We were
very fortunate to have a quick look at a pair of birds feeding in the same farmers field,
where we saw the Red-legged Partridges.
Common Pheasant Phasianus colchicus Introduced into Britain a few years before the Norman
Conquest. Every year, gamekeepers release thousands of reared pheasants into woods in
preparation for the shooting season, which begins on the 1st October. We enjoyed daily
sightings throughout our time in Scotland, of what is, without doubt, one of the world's most
beautiful birds.

RAILS, GALLINULES AND COOTS RALLIDAE
Eurasian Moorhen Gallinula chloropus A common resident throughout Scotland, which we saw
well on a few occasions.
Eurasian Coot Fulica atra In Scotland it is a common resident, which we saw well on many
occasions.

OYSTERCATCHERS HAEMATOPODIDAE
Eurasian Oystercatcher Haematopus ostralegus A common resident throughout Scotland, which
we saw on every day of the tour.

LAPWINGS AND PLOVERS CHARADRIIDAE
Northern Lapwing Vanellus vanellus A fairly common, though declining resident throughout
Scotland, which we saw on most days of the tour.
Common Ringed Plover Charadrius hiaticula A common breeding resident throughout Scotland;
we saw it on almost a daily basis, during our time in the Orkney Islands.
Eurasian Dotterel Charadrius morinellus The long hike up to Caenlochan, high in the Cairngorm
Mountains National Park, paid off handsomely, when we observed five birds, at fairly close
range. This very beautiful bird, is one of Britain's rarest breeding birds, with no more than
50 breeding pairs. It is not surprising that this species was voted `Bird of the Tour`, by tour
participants.
SANDPIPERS AND ALLIES SCOLOPACIDAE
Common Snipe Gallinago gallinago The Common Snipe is cryptically camouflaged and is an
uncommon resident throughout Scotland. We observed a couple of birds in the Findhorn
Valley, in the Scottish Highlands. We were very fortunate to watch a bird performing its
courtship display flight, known as 'drumming'. Males fly to height of approximately 100
metres and then dive down at a 45 degree angle with wings beating and tail fanned, with the
outermost feather on each side of the tail visibly standing clear, these feathers effected by
wing movement produce the drumming sound. We also observed small numbers during our
time in the Orkney Islands.
Black-tailed Godwit Limosa limosa In Scotland this species is an uncommon passage migrant and
winter visitor. We were very fortunate to observe a flock of six birds, in full breeding
plumage, at the Loch of Harray, in the Orkneys.
Bar-tailed Godwit Limosa lapponica In Scotland this species is a common passage migrant and
winter visitor, from breeding grounds in northern Scandinavia and northern Russia. We
enjoyed prolonged scope views of a single individual, in non-breeding plumage, at the Loch
Fleet National Nature Reserve, amongst a very large flock of Eurasian Curlews.
Whimbrel Numenius phaeopus In the lowlands of Scotland the Whimbrel is an uncommon
passage migrant, mainly migrating at night, and so seldom seen. We were extremely
fortunate to find a solitary bird at Aberlady Bay, on the first day of the tour.
Eurasian Curlew Numenius arquata In Scotland this species is a common resident and we saw it
on many occasions both in farmland and on open moorland.
Common Sandpiper Actitis hypoleucos In Scotland this species is a common summer breeding
bird, which we saw well on several occasions.
Common Redshank Tringa totanus The Common Redshank is a common resident throughout
Scotland, we saw it well on many occasions, mainly in the Orkney Islands.
Red Knot Calidris canutus In Scotland the Red Knot is a common winter visitor, but breeds far to
the north, on the very north coast of the Arctic. Therefore, we were very fortunate that Ken
pointed out an adult bird, in full breeding plumage in Birsay Bay, in the Orkneys.
Dunlin Calidris alpina In Scotland this species is a common resident, somewhat surprisingly, we
only observed one bird, in full breeding plumage, in the Loch Fleet National Nature
Reserve.

GULLS LARIDAE
Common Gull Larus canus In Scotland this species is a common resident, which we saw on
almost every day of the tour.
Great Black-backed Gull Larus marinus In Scotland this species is an uncommon resident,
which we saw well on many occasions, particularly in the Orkneys.
European Herring Gull Larus argentatus In Scotland this species is a common resident, which
we saw on almost every day of the tour.
Lesser Black-backed Gull Larus fuscus A common summer breeding migrant to Scotland, which
we saw well on many occasions.
Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus In Scotland this species is an abundant resident,
which we saw on every day of the tour.
Black-legged Kittiwake Rissa tridactyla In Scotland this species is a common resident of sea
cliffs and rocky islands, which we saw well on many occasions.

TERNS STERNIDAE
Arctic Tern Sterna paradisaea A common summer breeding migrant to coastal Scotland, which
we saw well on many occasions.                  


Common Tern Sterna hirundo In Scotland this species is a common summer visitor and passage
migrant. Unlike the Arctic Tern, this species also breeds far inland, as well as along the
coast. We enjoyed very good looks at a few birds on their breeding grounds, in the Findhorn
Valley.
Sandwich Tern Thalasseus sandvicensis In Scotland this species is an uncommon summer
breeder visitor, we enjoyed good looks at a large flock, in full breeding plumage at Loch
Fleet National Nature Reserve.

SKUAS AND JAEGERS STERCORARIIDAE
Great Skua Stercorarius skua In Scotland this species is an uncommon summer breeder, chiefly
in the Orkneys and the Shetland Islands. These birds spend most of the year on the ocean,
only coming to land to breed. In common with other species of skuas, the Great Skua is a
pirate; who harries gulls and other seabirds until its victims disgorge their last meal. We
encountered several birds on the ferry crossing between Scrabster and the Orkney Islands,
and then it became a common bird in the Orkneys.
Arctic Skua Stercorarius parasiticus In Great Britain the Arctic Skua is a locally common
summer breeding visitor to the far north of Scotland and its northern offshore islands. We
observed small numbers of this species during the ferry crossing between Scrabster and the Orkney Islands, and then it became a common bird in the Orkneys.

AUKS, GUILLEMOTS AND PUFFINS ALCIDAE
Common Guillemot Uria aalge In Scotland this bird is a common resident, we saw it very well at
sea and also at their sea cliff nesting sites.
Razorbill Alca torda Not quite as common as the above species, however, it is a common resident
throughout Scotland. Once again we observed them at sea and at their cliff nesting sites.
Black Guillemot Cepphus grylle In Scotland the Black Guillemot is a locally common resident.
We observed small numbers of this species during the ferry crossing between Scrabster and
the Orkney Islands, and then it became a common bird in the Orkneys.
Atlantic Puffin Fratercula arctica This very comical but attractive species of auk, is a fairly
common resident of coastal areas of Scotland. Once again we observed them at sea and at
their cliff nesting sites.

PIGEONS AND DOVES COLUMBIDAE
Rock Dove Columba livia Feral pigeons were very much in evidence in Scotland. However, we
also observed wild populations of Rock Doves, breeding on rocky sea cliffs in the Orkneys.
Stock Dove Columba oenas In Scotland, this species is an uncommon resident, we saw one
individual in flight, at Aberlady Bay.
Common Wood-Pigeon Columba palumbus In Scotland, this species is an abundant resident,
which we saw on every day of the tour.
Eurasian Collared-Dove Streptopelia decaocto This species is an abundant resident in virtually
all locations throughout Scotland, it is especially common near human habitation.

CUCKOOS CUCULIDAE
Common Cuckoo Cuculus canorus In Scotland the Common Cuckoo is a fairly common summer
breeding bird. Some members of the group observed a bird at the RSPB Reserve at Loch
Garten, in the Scottish Highlands and we all saw it very well indeed, during both visits to
the Cottisgarth RSPB Reserve, on the Orkneys.

OWLS STRIGIDAE
Short-eared Owl Asio flammeus This species is a locally common resident of Scotland, becoming
common in the Orkney Islands, where we enjoyed many good sightings.
SWIFTS APODIDAE
Common Swift Apus apus The Common Swift is a very common summer breeding bird
throughout the mainland of Scotland, where we saw it on every day of the tour. In sharp
contrast to the mainland, it was very scarce in the Orkneys.

WOODPECKERS AND ALLIES PICIDAE
Great Spotted Woodpecker Dendrocopos major A fairly common resident of Scotland, we saw it
very well on a number of occasions.  

LARKS ALAUDIDAE
Sky Lark Alauda arvensis A fairly common but declining species throughout Scotland, which we
saw well on a few occasions.

SWALLOWS HIRUNDINIDAE
Common Sand Martin Riparia riparia In Scotland this species is a common summer breeding
species, which we saw well on many occasions.
Barn Swallow Hirundo rustica An abundant summer visitor and passage migrant to Scotland,
which we recorded on every day of the tour.
House Martin Delichon urbicum This well known species is a very common summer visitor to Scotland, which we recorded on most days of the tour.

PIPITS AND WAGTAILS MOTACILLIDAE
Meadow Pipit Anthus pratensis A very common resident throughout Scotland, which we saw on
every day of the tour. It is the favourite host of the Common Cuckoo.
Tree Pipit Anthus trivialis A spectacular song-flight and parachute display makes up for the rather
dull plumage of this fairly common summer visitor to Scotland, from wintering grounds in
tropical Africa. We enjoyed super scope views of an individual in a clearing in a forest at
Boath. This was our only sighting of this species.
Rock Pipit Anthus petrosus A fairly common resident and breeding bird of rocky shorelines
throughout Scotland. We saw small numbers in the Orkneys, where we recorded it along the
shoreline, on a daily basis.
White Wagtail Motacilla alba This is a very common resident species throughout Scotland. We
recorded it on every day of the tour.
Grey Wagtail Motacilla cinerea This very attractive species of wagtail is a fairly common
resident species in Scotland. We saw it very well along a fast flowing stream, close to the
Kindgrogan Field Centre, at Pitlochry.

KINGLETS REGULIDAE
Goldcrest Regulus regulus Lively and fearless, the Goldcrest is Scotland's smallest bird, we saw
it well on a number of occasions in conifer woodlands throughout the tour.

DIPPERS CINCLIDAE
White-throated Dipper Cinclus cinclus This species is a fairly common resident of Scotland and
one of the highlights of the tour was watching this species tumbling in and out of a fast-
flowing mountain stream at Nethy Bridge.

WRENS TROGLODYTIDAE
Eurasian Wren Troglodytes troglodytes In Scotland the Eurasian Wren is a common and
widespread resident, which we saw on most days of the tour.                  


ACCENTORS PRUNELLIDAE
Dunnock Prunella modularis This species of accentor, is a common and widespread resident in
Scotland, which we saw well on several occasions.  

THRUSHES AND ALLIES TURDIDAE
Ring Ouzel Turdus torquatus This species is an uncommon summer breeding bird in Scotland, it
winters mainly in the Atlas Mountains of Morocco and in countries bordering the
Mediterranean Sea. We were very fortunate to stumble upon a breeding pair in the car park
of the Cairngorm Mountains National Park, enabling us to see this species very well.
Common Blackbird Turdus merula A common and widespread resident throughout Scotland,
which we saw on every day of the tour.
Song Thrush Turdus philomelos This is a very common resident in Scotland, where we enjoyed
many good observations.
Mistle Thrush Turdus viscivorus The largest of Britain's breeding thrushes, it is a fairly common resident throughout Scotland, which we saw well on many occasions.

OLD WORLD WARBLERS SYLVIIDAE
Sedge Warbler Acrocephalus schoenobaenus The Sedge Warbler is a common summer breeding
species in Scotland. We first observed this species at the Loch Leven RSPB Reserve and
then we saw it well on both of our visits to The Loons RSPB Reserve, in the Orkneys.
Willow Warbler Phylloscopus trochilus In Scotland, the Willow Warbler is a very common
summer breeding visitor, which we saw well on a few occasions.
Blackcap Sylvia atricapilla The Blackcap is a very uncommon summer breeding visitor to
Scotland, Russell and Michael were fortunate to observe a single bird at the Kindgrogan
Field Centre, at Pitlochry.
Garden Warbler Sylvia borin The Garden Warbler, is a common, though shy summer breeding
visitor to Scotland. We were very fortunate to enjoy good close looks at a singing bird, in
the grounds of the Kindgrogan Field Centre, at Pitlochry.
Common Whitethroat Sylvia communis This species is also a common summer breeding visitor
to Scotland, we saw it very well at Aberlady Bay and again in farmland, close to Boath.

OLD WORLD FLYCATCHERS MUSCICAPIDAE
Spotted Flycatcher Muscicapa striata This species is an uncommon summer breeding visitor to
Scotland, which we saw surprisingly well, on several occasions.
Pied Flycatcher Ficedula hypoleuca In Scotland, this species is a recent coloniser, with small
numbers now breeding in southern and central Scotland. We very much enjoyed watching a
pair which were nesting in one of the nest boxes, in the Kindgrogan Field Centre, at
Pitlochry.
European Robin Erithacus rubecula This attractive species, is a common resident in mainland
Scotland, where we saw it on every day of the tour. However, in the Orkneys it is a very
uncommon resident, and we were fortunate to observe a family party in the garden of our lodgings.
Common Redstart Phoenicurus phoenicurus An uncommon summer breeding visitor to
Scotland, which we only saw on two occasions. The first sighting occurred in the Loch
Garten RSPB Reserve, and the second, took place in the Abernethy Nature Reserve.
Common Stonechat Saxicola rubicola In Scotland, this species is a fairly common resident,
which we saw well, on several occasions.
Northern Wheatear Oenanthe oenanthe In Scotland, this species is a common summer breeding visitor, which we saw very well on numerous occasions.


TITS AND CHICKADEES PARIDAE
Coal Tit Periparus ater A common and widespread resident of conifer plantations throughout
Scotland, we saw it well on several occasions.
Crested Tit Lophophanes cristatus Extensive felling of woodland in Scotland during the 17th and
18th centuries drove the Crested Tit into a small area of the Scottish Highlands. Due to
recent re-afforestation the species is slowly moving back into areas to which it was once
lost. We enjoyed great looks at a family party in the Anagach Forest and this was followed
by a second sighting of another family party in the Aberethy Nature Reserve. These
sightings were undoubtedly one of the highlights of the trip.
Great Tit Parus major A common and widespread resident throughout mainland Scotland, which
we saw on a daily basis. It does not occur in the Orkney Islands.
Blue Tit Cyanistes caeruleus This closely related species is also a common and widespread resident throughout mainland Scotland and once again, we saw it on almost every day of the tour. It does not occur on the Orkney Islands.

CREEPERS CERTHIIDAE
Eurasian Treecreeper Certhia familiaris In Scotland, this species is a common resident,
which we saw well on a few occasions.

JAYS, MAGPIES AND CROWS CORVIDAE
Eurasian Jay Garrulus glandarius This species is an uncommon resident of the southern half of
Scotland. We were fortunate to find one scavenging on the ground, below bird feeders, in
the Killiecrankie Nature Reserve.
Common Magpie Pica hudsonia A fairly common resident in southern and eastern Scotland,
which we saw well on a few occasions.
Western Jackdaw Corvus monedula In Scotland this species is an extremely common resident,
which we saw on almost a daily basis.
Rook Corvus frugilegus This species is an abundant resident in both mainland Scotland and in the 
Orkney Islands, we observed very large flocks feeding in farmland, during our time in the
Orkneys.
Carrion Crow Corvus corone The Carrion Crow is a common and widespread species throughout
the mainland of Scotland, but is absent from the Orkney Islands.
Hooded Crow Corvus cornix In Scotland, it is a common resident of western Scotland, but only becomes common in the east, in the far north and in the Orkneys.
Common Raven Corvus corax In mainland Scotland this species is an uncommon and highly
localised resident, however, it proved to be common in the Orkneys, where we saw it on a
daily basis.

STARLINGS STURNIDAE
Common Starling Sturnus vulgaris In Scotland this species has become an inescapable part of
life, even in the Orkneys.

OLD WORLD SPARROWS PASSERIDAE
House Sparrow Passer domesticus A common and widespread resident, throughout both
mainland Scotland and the Orkneys.
Eurasian Tree Sparrow Passer montanus An increasingly uncommon resident throughout Great
Britain, particularly so, in Scotland. We were very fortunate to observe a few birds of this species, at the bird feeders in the Loch Leven RSPB Reserve.



SISKINS, CROSSBILLS AND ALLIES FRINGILLIDAE
Chaffinch Fringilla coelebs An abundant and widespread species throughout mainland Scotland,
but absent from the Orkneys.
Scottish Crossbill Loxia scotica Britain's only endemic bird, it is confined to the ancient
Caledonian Pine Forests of the Scottish Highlands. We saw a pair in flight in woodland
close to Boath, and then enjoyed good scope views of a flock of five immature birds feeding
and preening in conifers, in Balblair Wood.
Common Crossbill Loxia curvirostra An uncommon resident of Scotland, Russell and I observed
a pair in flight, while parking our bus, in the Kindgrogan Field Centre, at Pitlochry.
European Greenfinch Carduelis chloris A common and widespread resident throughout Scotland,
which we saw well on many occasions.
Common Redpoll A fairly common resident of Scotland, which we only saw twice in flight, and
once perched.
Eurasian Siskin Carduelis spinus A fairly common resident of conifer plantations in Scotland, we
saw it well on many occasions.
European Goldfinch Carduelis carduelis Common and widespread throughout the Scottish
mainland, but absent from the Orkneys.
Twite Carduelis flavirostris An uncommon resident of Scotland, we were very fortunate to enjoy
very close scope views of a pair of feeding birds, at Rackwick, on the Island of Hoy, in the
Orkneys.
Linnet Carduelis cannabina In Scotland, the Linnet is a widespread and common species, which
we saw well on numerous occasions.
Eurasian Bullfinch Pyrrhula pyrrhula In Scotland, this species is a fairly common resident,
which we saw well on a few occasions, we saw it particularly well on the first day of the
tour, at Aberlady Bay.

BUNTINGS, SPARROWS, SEEDEATERS AND ALLIES EMBERIZIDAE
Yellowhammer Emberiza citrinella Unfortunately, this attractive species is declining rapidly
throughout Britain. In Scotland it is now an uncommon resident. Fortunately, we saw it very well on a few occasions in farmland, close to Boath.
Common Reed Bunting Emberiza schoeniclus A common and widespread resident throughout
the whole of Scotland, we enjoyed several good looks at this attractive species.
Snow Bunting Plectrophenax nivalis This stunning looking species breeds in the high Arctic from
Scandinavia to Alaska and Canada to Greenland. They spend the winter months
approximately 1,500 kilometres south of their breeding range. In Britain the Snow Bunting
is predominantly a winter visitor, from breeding grounds in Greenland, Iceland and
Scandinavia. Approximately 10,000 to 15,000 birds winter in Britain each year, staying
predominantly along the coast, but numbers vary greatly, from year to year. In sharp
contrast, it is estimated that only 60 pairs breed in Britain each year, and only at the tops of
the highest mountains in the Scottish Highlands. Therefore, it was a tremendous thrill, to
observe a few pairs in full breeding plumage, feeding along the edge of snow fields, at
Caenlochan, high in the Cairngorm Mountains National Park.             










MAMMALS


European Rabbit Oryctolagus cuniculus An abundant and widespread mammal throughout
Scotland, which we saw on most days of the tour.
Brown Hare Lepus europaeus A fairly common resident of Scotland, we recorded it on every day
of the tour in the Orkneys, but not on the mainland. It is obviously far more common on the
Orkneys, than in mainland Scotland.
Mountain Hare Lepus tinidus A fairly common resident on the higher mountains of Scotland, we
only saw it in the Cairngorm Mountains National Park.
Eurasian Red Squirrel Sciurus vulgaris Unfortunately, this species has experienced a huge
decrease in numbers, since the introduction of the Grey Squirrel. However, the stronghold
in Britain for this species, is the ancient Caledonian Pine Forest, in the Scottish Highlands,
where we enjoyed good close looks at this very attractive species of squirrel.
Field Vole Microtus agrestis A common resident throughout Scotland, one ran across a track just
ahead of us, while we were birding in the Anagach Forest, in the Scottish Highlands.
Western House Mouse Mus domesticus We watched one of these creatures at very close range,
running along the outside wall of a petrol station, close to Boath.
Wood Mouse Apodemus sylvaticus One of these mammals was also taking advantage of the Pine Marten feeding station at the Kindgrogan Field Centre, at Pitlochry.
Bank Vole Clethrionomys glareolus We enjoyed super close looks at one of these little creatures,
who was feeding on the ground, below the bird feeders in the Loch Garten RSPB Reserve.
Brown Rat Rattus norvegicus Aileen saw a Brown Rat running into dense cover, while we were
birding on South Ronaldsay Island, in the Orkneys.
Common Seal Phoca vitulina In Scotland this small species of seal, is less common than the Grey
Seal, however, we saw it well on the mainland and in the Orkneys.
Grey Seal Halichoerus grypus A common resident throughout Scotland, we enjoyed many
sightings of this large species of seal, it was particularly numerous in the Orkneys.
Pine Marten Martes martes We enjoyed scope views of one of these very beautiful mammals at a
feeding station, in the grounds of the Kindgrogan Field Centre, at Pitlochry.
Stoat Mustela erminea One of the highlights of the trip was seeing a family party of this delightful
animal. The four young animals were almost as large as the parents, they moved in unison
like synchronised swimmers as they ran across the road in front of us and disappeared over a
small bridge and into dense cover. The sighting took place along the edge of the Cromarty
Firth, near Alness.
Weasel Mustela nivalis The following day, while birding in Balblair Wood, a Weasel ran across
the track ahead of us.
Common Shrew Sorex araneus We enjoyed super close looks at one of these little creatures,
who was feeding on the ground, below the bird feeders in the Loch Garten RSPB Reserve.
Common Pipistrelle Pipistrellus pipistrellus Ken saw this diminutive species of bat, flying around
the Kindgrogan Field Centre, at Pitlochry.
Northern Minke Whale Balaenoptera acutorostrata I saw one of these quite well, during the
ferry crossing, from Scrabster, to the Ornkeys.
Red Deer Cervus elaphus We saw a large distant group, during our time in the Findhorn Valley.
Western Roe Deer Capreolus capreolus A common resident in Scotland, we enjoyed many good
sightings during the tour.

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