Setting Off From Sandwell valley

Monday, 11 October 2010

Aberdeenshire - Loch Of Strathbeg RSPB Reserve

Can't be a better antedote to having come off Shetland than visiting Loch of Strathbeg RSPB reserve. 3 pectoral sandpipers [year list bird], and around 10,,000 pink-footed geese, as well as over 70 other species.

Had got off the ferry from Lerwick Thursday am and cycled to Rifigi farm to look for the pec sand there. Couldn't see it, did see 2 ruff and 87 curlew, so cycled 40 miles north to get to Strathbeg. Stopped at the Ythan Estuary to revive memories of my last time there 20 years ago when I twitched a king eider. Beautiful place.

Donughts [how do you spell it?] from Morrisons at Peterhead and an early arrival to the Loch. Was due on the Friday but wanted to see the geese arriving for the night.

Met Mark, Dave and Dominic and relaxed in the superb visitor's centre and the tower hide. Fabulous views of thousands of pink feets coming in for the night.

Up early next morning to join the Goose Watch. A strip of orange sky brightened as the geese took off and Dave told jokes and statistics to the members of the public who'd likewise wanted to see the spectacle - and hear it.

To the plantation next and a couple of yellow-brows with a few other migrants. ( lapland bunting were seen next adjacent to the sand dunes. {!}

About to have breakfast/lunch when the news of a black tern at the south end of the loch got me back on the bike. The RSPB people took the car but when I arrived the bird had gone to the other end. Oh well, more peddling and eventually views of a black tern [year list bird] through a telescope.

Now I have decided that the Scottish crossbill that I'd counted is no longer valid. Aberdeenshire/North east Scotland only count them if proof of a sonograph is available. Not having one on the bike I've decided to remove that so with the pectoral sandpiper and black tern the year list now stands at 234.

Stayed at the Fen Hide after the rest of the people had gone and whiulst looking at the tern saw a hen harrier land in the distant reed bed.

Exactly 70 bird species seen during the day.

Saturday 9th October 2010

Cyled to Troup Head but first saw the Goose Watch again, with larger numbers of geese taking off at one time than the previous morn. Also stopped at Crimond Church to see the 61 minute clock and the beautifully engraved windows celebrating the writer of the music to the hymn of the 23rd psalm. Was invited into the local church hall by Ann, after being shown around the church by Marlene [many thanks to both] where a Macmillan's coffee morning was taking place. Had a great time chatting with local people, drinking coffee and eating 'Rowie's'. Thanks to George for the information about the area.

Also many thanks to Marlene, Ann, Elma, Olive, Rachel and Eileen for their donations to Asthma UK.

Also thanks for the donation from 2 citizen wardens in Aberdeen - thanks.

Got to Troup Head and had an early night.

Sunday 10/10/10 - I like that.    Troup Head RSPB Reserve

Had a morning off and read Bill Bryson for a bit. Eventually got up and explored the valley by the RSPB car park, finding lots of song thrushes, a few chiffs, a blackcap, a willow warbler and a reed bunting. Nothing special but I love finding migrants.

To the cliffs and sat watching the gannets on the cliffs. wrote down some specific behaviours observed - love and marriage.

5 wheatears on the way back to where I'd left the bike.

Cycled to Pennan, the location for the film Local Hero and had my phograph taken to the red phone box there.

Next stop was for a huge burial cairn at Memsie.

Then back to Fen Hide at Strathbeg but surpirsed to come across a Stock Car racing meeting. Enjoyed watching tha last three races; a ladies go-cart race, a 4 car saloon race and finally a demolition derby where the last car going out of around 30 was the winner. Chaos and mayhem, smashes and bashes. A winner and everyone homeward bound.

Now at Petehead cycling towards Fowlsheugh RSPB reserve, my next port of call.


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