Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Happy New Year - A Brief round up!

Happy New Year one and all, hope you had a fantastic festive season and I wish you all the very best and good birding for 2013.

This blog entry is a quick round up of the end of 2012 and sets the scene for 2013.

The last remaining months of 2012 were very busy in terms of Birding tours, both full and half days, but also incorporating clients that had booked a special deal through the BWWC at the splendid Grant Arms Hotel in Grantown on Spey.  For these deals I provided a three hour guided trip around two local birding hot spots on the Moray Firth.

BWWC Mrs Palmer +3!
Once again I met many fantastic people (only a select few with dubious tastes in optics, see above).  Visited some old favourite locations and some new venues that will soon feature on the Birding Ecosse day tours itinerary.
Highlights for me on the bird front were visiting a local Black Grouse Moor and counting five Greyhens perched on top of a stand of birch trees, the most I have seen at this site and hopefully a good omen for the forth coming breeding season.
A beautiful frosty (-12) morning on a Black Grouse Moor
Heading North in the face of some truly miserable weather (the actual results of this weather front causing huge structural damage along the whole of the North East coastline, and as was to become sadly apparent also accounting for many deaths of Shags and wrecking of Auk's) Peter Hearn and I were lucky to pick up a Red (or Grey for us old timers) Phalarope feeding in the spume just off Golspie pier.  The gale force winds and almost night time light levels meant some awful pictures, so sorry for the quality of the following shot!
Grey Phalarope (or Little Gull, Little Auk, Kittiwake if you squint your eyes!)
Christmas eve saw Lynda and myself head North with John and Nicola from the Grant Arms hotel.  The weather was very kind that day and proved to be a small window of nice weather before returning to wind and rain.  A visit to the Black Isle, Portmahommack and Tarbat Ness.  The day went very well with some nice birds being seen throughout the day, Long Tailed Duck, Little Auk, Black Guillemot, hundreds of Scaup, Pink footed and Greylag Geese.  The day ended at Chanonry point trying to see dolphins, however by this time it was pitch dark and the dolphins had been put away for the night!
The lull between Christmas and New year was taken up with some local workshops along the Moray Firth, searching for seaducks in particular.  Is it perhaps the mild weather that is keeping the numbers of Scoters and Long Tailed Ducks so low?  Numbers are considerably lower than what I was picking up this time last year.
2013 dawned bright and fair, but with storm clouds lingering on the horizon.  Today was a busmans holiday so Lynda and I set off for a half day birding in the local area, because she is my charming and long suffering partner I decided not to charge her full price (only joking...... honest!)  Highlights of the day was a massive finch flock, just outside Nethybridge containing around 1000 birds with a minimum of 200 Brambling.  The most brambling I have ever seen!  Crested Tits showing well at a local RSPB reserve is also a nice bird to get on the year list on day one.

But without doubt, for me it was the confiding, bold and cheeky Coal Tits that stole the show.  A small amount of seed in your hand and they were all over the place! Lining up in the tree branches waiting to take their turn for this free banquet!  Now I'm a trained ringer and have handled hundreds of Coal Tits, but the experience of these wee birds landing on your hand and searching through the seeds in search of black sunflowers (the only food any of thenm took) is one I will long remember!

Coal Tit Christmas Tree decorations!

Dave the Human Bird Table.
All in all 2012 was a highly successful birding year, Birding Ecosse is growing at a nice pace and I am now getting regular bookings from returning customers,  my diary is filling up with new bookings and people are being referred to me, so I must be doing something right!  However I have many new ideas, and exciting new places to visit lined up for 2013 so keep watching this blog and my web page at
Thank you to every single person that took part in Birding Ecosse in 2012 and looking forward to seeing you all again at some point in 2013.

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