Thursday, 10 November 2016

A week in Scotland

Spent the week in Scotland, managed a little birding and two days of hill walking. Saturday afternoon was spent at the football were Saints were punished by Patrick Thistle going down to the odd goal in three loosing out to a last minute winner!

Sunday 30th October
It was a pleasant day, good for late October so we opted for a day in the hills. We chose the Corbett – Being a' Chuallaich which lies about 15 miles west of Pitlochry, first though was the little matter of a Ring-necked Duck on a small pool in Pitlochry.

Ring-necked Duck, Pitlochry

From Pitlochry it was only a 25 minute drive to the starting point, as we approach Beinn a' Chuallaich it appeared miles away. I realised we had taken a different road! At the starting point the slopes were so steep that we could not see our target which lay behind the steep ridge in front of us. After a 30 minute climb it levelled out and the hill lay ahead with a mile or so of peat hag between!

It walking wasn’t pleasant but we soon hit firmer ground and once at the col we were soon reached the substantial summit cairn. At this point I had only been wearing a T-shirt, but at the summit the wind was chilly, so out came the coats. We took our time taking in some stunning scenery, then on the way back I came across my first Ptarmigan since I started climbing Corbetts.
Joy at the summit of Beinn a' Chuallaich
Me at the summit of Beinn a' Chuallaich
Looking west with Loch Rannoch behind

We stopped again at Pitlochry on our return to take in the scenery and the autumn leaves over the loch were simply breathtaking, with scores of photographers making the most of the autumn sun.
Monday 31st October
Had a day out birding with Stuart Green, an Angus birder I have known for over ten years now. We have a similar sense of humour and I always enjoy his company. We met at Carnoustie with the idea of birding Barry Buddon a headland than goes out into the Tay estuary. Unfortunately it doubles as a Military Firing Range and just out luck the Red Flags were up.

We decided to just work our way north along the coast to Arbroath. Unfortunately it was quiet although for me birds like Twite, Long-tailed Duck c.120 Red-throated Diver etc were not to be sniffed at. On the outskirts of Arbroath we checked out the Elliott Burn, I mused that if there had been a headland here it would be known as the Elliott Ness! We crossed a pedestrian railway bridge to check out the beach and on the way back my boot snagged on one of the steps and if fell down the last five steps, nothing hurt but my pride! We ended up in with a Med Gull in the roost and I dropped Stuart off back at his car in Carnoustie before returning to Perth.

Tuesday 1st November
Joy and I spent the morning in Fife where we searched in vain for a Surf Scoter, we did see Long-tailed Duck c.80 Velvet Scoter and a variety of common species but although flat calm the sun was low and looking south was a bit of a problem. We searched for Purple Sandpiper at St Andrews, were unfortunately a dog flushed all the birds from the exposed rocks. I did see a small flock of Knot fly off but I was ten minutes too late to find anything else.

Wednesday 2nd November
Joy and I chose Meall nan Maigheach in the Ben Lawers range as today's target and it was an easy choice with the Loch Tay to Glen Lyon road taking us up to 500m. I predicted Golden Eagle mainly as its been a while since we had seen one on the hills and we had seen them in this area before. Although the terrain wasn’t the easiest we were remarkably sitting at the summit in 50 minutes. Again we took our time and enjoyed the scenery with good views back to Meall nan Tarmachan and down into Glen Lyon. I scanned the skyline and picked up a Goldie flying west up Glen Lyon then it swung south and flew into the corrie of Meall nan Tarmachan – brilliant!
The summit of Meall nan Maigheach with Meall nan Tarmachan behind
The summit of Meall nan Maigheach with Meall nan Tarmachan behind
Meall nan Tarmachan
Thursday 3rd November
Joy and I returned to Fife where we again searched in vain for a Surf Scoter, we saw pretty much the same as Tuesday plus a flock of 6 Whooper Swan. At Fife Ness we saw a couple of Purple Sandpiper but the rain started so we headed back to Perth.

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