Lochindorb was particularly grey and bleak but we managed to pick a few birds up including the rare breeding bird that we'd been hoping for but had taken us four attempts to finally see. That bird (which must not be named even though just about every birder worth their salt knows about it anyway) pushed our year list up to #234 a number that far exceeded anything we expected so early in the year. We saw the usual suspects either close to the road or on the loch shore as we drove around but, to be perfectly honest, we were becoming a little bit bored with driving around Lochindorb in shitty weather! So we drove on to check out a few smaller lochans where we'd seen some more interesting birds over the years. As we approached one of the lochans, conveniently located right next to a minor road, I spotted the shape of a Diver close to the bank but furthest from the road. Parking carefully we lifted our binoculars and saw that it was a fine Red-throated Diver. In fact there were two, the other was tucked in under the bank but soon joined the other in more open water. Red-throats quite often use these small lochans to rest and preen after fishing sorties which are usually made to the coast or to larger lochs like Lochindorb.
After a few moments both of the Red-throats began to preen and brush up proving that they were entirely at ease with us being there. I've never got a decent photo of a Red-throated Diver and today wouldn't see a change to that status owing to the rain and general greyness of the day but at least I managed to get some useable ones.
We left the Divers still preening and dozing so went to check the other roadside lochans out but found nothing of note on any of them. When we returned half an hour later the Red-throated Divers had gone.
At a bit of a loss at what to do for the rest of the day we decided to visit the Highland Wildlife Park near Loch Insh. I'm not a big fan of zoos but it had been so long since we'd seen a real live Capercaillie and knowing that the park had some we both thought it would be good just to see one again and to reaffirm that they do actually exist! The Wildlife Park is actually a brilliant place, the animals and birds are housed in more than adequate sized enclosures and are bred to both safeguard species in peril and also to advance techniques should any species require reintroduction schemes to be implemented in the future. We watched the Polar Bears getting fed, marvelled at how big they are and shuddered at the thought of ever coming face to face with Amur Tigers! Equally impressive were the Lynx and the Wolf, both earmarked for rewinding in Scotland one day. But it's birds that we treasure and coming so close to be able to look directly into a four foot high Cranes eye is something you can't do every day! I never realised just how big Great Grey Owls were either and made a promise to myself to book a holiday to Estonia or Finland one day.
|Great Grey Owl, Highland Wildlife Park|
|female Capercaillie, Highland Wildlife Park|
|Ring Ouzel fledgling|
We ended the day by going out for a night drive to the Dorbach estate primarily to look for Owls. We've heard the squeaky young of Long-eared Owls in the area before but it is generally the Short-eared Owl that shows since it is far more likely to hunt in daylight. However it was almost dark before a Shortie showed and then it disappointed by flying straight overhead to hunt elsewhere. While waiting we had scoped a trio of male Black Grouse on a distant hillside and just as it was getting darker several Woodcock, #235 for the year, appeared.
We went back to the cottage forlornly hoping for a dryer and nicer day on Sunday!