Mellon Charles, where the Blue-winged Teal was hiding out, is 100 mile drive from Carrbridge where we're staying and would take around 2 hours to reach. The weather forecast was generally rain with a few sunny periods, in fact the outlook for the next fortnight was for rain! For the first part of the journey though it was dry but once we reached the higher ground further west the wet stuff did indeed start falling. Not ideal birding weather but we were twitching so it shouldn't hinder us much.
We parked up by the cemetery, looked out over the small reed fringed Lochan and saw nothing! Well next to nothing, there were a couple of drake Mallard's and a Little Grebe. A small posse of Common Terns flew in and bathed in the fresh water but for the next 45 minutes we had no sighting of the target bird.
|Blue-winged Teal, Mellon Charles 03/06/2019|
The Blue-winged Teal had returned to the sanctuary of the reeds so we decided to head off for a coffee and to look for White-tailed Eagles at the nearby Gruinaird Island area. The weather decided that it would defeat that objective by turning very foul indeed, no Eagles would dare be out and about in those conditions. We checked out a minor road to Mellon Udrigle and were delighted to witness a close flypast of a male Hen Harrier. I couldn't stop the car, get the window down and raise the camera quickly enough to get a photo before it disappeared over a ridge and we couldn't relocate it. We also saw a Merlin in hot pursuit of some Meadow Pipits so at least the birding was looking up!
After our coffee and cheesecake fix we returned to the Lochan and helped ourselves to seconds of the Blue-winged Teal which was now showing much better and more openly albeit still at the furthest end of the water.
We had a quick look around the Gairloch area where we had seen our first Otter a few years ago but apart from some Seals and a Grey Heron there was nothing doing so we turned for our temporary home.