Follow that link for some suggested locations. In summer, the divers – red throats and the less common black throats – are distant denizens of remote lochs in the Highlands and islands. Best leave ’em in peace. Scotland is inundated with them, specifically the grey seal. Let’s face it, things aren’t looking very promising second time around for keeping its status amongst the birds in Scotland. A boat-trip to one of their breeding colonies, say, the Bass Rock, east of Edinburgh is a ‘must-see’ Scottish wildlife experience, though there are other colonies, including Troup Head in Aberdeenshire, Noss and Hermaness in Shetland. And there are specialties too: crested tits, crossbills, sea eagles and more. From tiny ‘cresties’ to great big eagles, birds in Scotland are pretty high-profile. And I don’t want you to go disturbing them like we did. These medium-sized Scottish birds live on the uplands all year round, travelling very little. The great northern diver pictured below – heck, I hope it’s below – is scarcer still as a breeder. But that’s a digression, unless your name is Menzies (say ‘ming-iss’) or you live in Finzean (‘fing-in’), which coincidentally isn’t too far from the few capercailzies left in Deeside. Whether on a train or exploring the coast on foot, setting sight on these grey wonders as they sparkle like silver near the sands is always a day maker. There may be a trip in my future now that I have seen your photos Many even go as far to insist that Scotland is the best place out there for them. (There’s a picture of one on that page.). – is in the high parts of the Applecross peninsula. Two more of our special Scottish birds are interesting but quite low profile – in as far as you have to go out and find them. If the breeding season is wet, if the chicks are tiny they get chilled and don’t survive. Sites Europe Britain Ireland Britain Scotland Aberdeenshire . They were persecuted to extinction in Scotland in the early years of the 20th century (part of the proud heritage of gamekeeping in Scotland). In mature Scots pinewoods in the Highlands, especially, say, around Abernethy, much fuss is made and effort put into conserving the capercaillie, a kind of half-grouse, half-turkey-like aberration. - - 544151.jpg 640 × 446; 108 KB To be honest, I think even experienced birdy folk always have that ‘is it or isn’t it’ moment when they first spot a distant, dark, soaring bird against the Scottish hills. These bird identification guides provide information about over 140 of the most common British birds including garden birds, birds of prey, shorebirds and waterfowl. (I hear you say.) There is a string of spectacular seabird colonies all along the east coast – of which the highest profile are St Abbs, close to the A1 near the Border, then the famous Bass Rock in the Firth of Forth, next Fowlsheugh south of Aberdeen, then Troup Head on the Moray Firth. But it was about as far north-west as you could go). By the way, that is NOT me ducking – and it isn’t my labrador! Common garden birds The most likely visitors to your garden are starlings, house sparrows, blackbirds, blue and great tits, robins, greenfinches and collared doves. Oh that’s the noise you’ll hear from the rest of the party . In any event (lesser) redpolls as a ‘bird table bird’ were new to me, but there they were, as common as sparrows and looking at their very best as well. With few exceptions, if you see a golden eagle while you are still inside your car, and it’s sitting on top of a fence post – the eagle, I mean, not the car – then you’ve probably seen a buzzard, or ‘tourist eagle’. Sumburgh Head at the south tip of Shetland is really good, but possibly a bit far…. The largest of the grouse family, the poor beasts became extinct here before the end of the 18th century, then were re-introduced from Sweden in the 19th century. I’ve also discovered that lesser redpolls like to hang out with siskins…. Overall then, if you believe in reincarnation, then your bird of choice for your next life should probably not be a capercaillie. If you hear ptarmigan in Scotland, making that strange and characteristic noise like a motor-bike (I think so, anyway), then well done – it means you have definitely taken some exercise to get that high. There is a variety of photographs, some of very common garden birds which you would see every day, some of speciality species like the high altitude Dotterel, and some images of once-off rarities that I … These are the crested tit and the (Scottish) crossbill. 09/11/2020. Dotterel fly south in autumn but there is some great bird-watching in Scotland in winter. Scotland enjoys diverse temperate environments, incorporating deciduous and coniferous woodlands, and moorland, montane, estuarine, freshwater, oceanic, and tundra landscapes. Find one dead on the beach (and I hope you don’t), pick it up by one wingtip, hold the tip as high as your head and you’ll find the other wing-tip is still on the sand. Actually, no, don’t…wish I hadn’t suggested that. Their weird ‘lunatic’ wailing can sometimes be heard on a still Highland night, but only above the noise of  bad language, cursing and slapping. If it’s a still Highland night then you can be sure that the resident midge population will be making the most of spoiling it for you. I’ve seen them sitting tight on the Grampian tops and I once came across a wee flock – probably passing through, possibly Norway-bound – on the slopes of a big hill near Rannoch Moor one spring. This, as birdie folk can tell at a glance, isn’t the famous bonxie or great skua but the much less common arctic skua, in this case, a dark phase example. Pictured here is what happens if you take a short-cut across the moors in Orkney. (In fact, you can see them from the car!). You have to go into the pinewoods for crossbills and crested tits, though it helps to know that cresties (apparently) never stray more than a few hundred yards/metres from their place of birth. What birds to expect In many gardens dunnocks, song thrushes and chaffinches will hop around on the ground below the bird table. I’m now thinking my redpoll is a lesser redpoll on the grounds that it’s summer and the redpoll is a winter visitor. Anyway, these gannets are big, big birds up close – though the usual view is of distant black-tipped white crosses rocketing down into the sea. Climate change is thought to have a strong bearing. In this category of course are members of the grouse family, especially the iconic – that word again – red grouse of the Highlands. Sure, they’re around, but amongst the birds in Scotland still very special when you do see them. I’d prefer to be vague. My favourite of all place is just outside the back door, as illustrated. But a serious birdy lady once told me that, so I thought I should share it.). My own second-favourite viewing place for them is at the River Spey estuary in Moray – the car-park at the road end (Tugnet) by Spey Bay. I mean, we are not talking aggressively unmissable ‘bonxie on the breeding ground’ behaviour – see below – to give just one example of a Scottish bird that even the most dull-witted walker would notice. Osprey, snow bunting, dotterel, great skua, Scottish crossbill, crested tit and several others are just some of the species especially associated with Scotland. The rural areas of eastern Scotland are good places to see the over-wintering flocks of grey geese of various species – Montrose Basin and Loch of Strathbeg can be spectacular. Greater Short-toed Lark. The well-resourced RSPB visitor centre at Loch Garten in Strathspey is where even non-birdy visitors go to see this spectacular fish-hawk and pry into its domestic arrangements via close-circuit tv. Mention of the east side of Scotland is a reminder you don’t have to go north and west for all your birds. We retreated immediately, very rapidly.

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