Trip report - north Norfolk and Scotland

04th January 2010
Dates: 26th December 2009 to 3rd January 2010

Destination: north Norfolk and Scotland

Purpose of trip:

The purpose of my trip was to pick up on some of the “missing” species on my 2009 bird list and to get my 2010 list off to a good start.

Primary target areas:

The primary target areas for wildlife watching were:

Norfolk: Strumpshaw Fen and Buckenham Marshes RSPB reserve

Norfolk: Stubb Mill, Hickling

Norfolk: Titchwell RSPB reserve

Norfolk: Abbey Farm, Flitcham

Central Scotland: Barons Haugh RSPB reserve, Motherwell

Central Scotland: Firth of Forth (south shore)

Northern Scotland: Speyside

Northern Scotland: Moray Firth (north shore)

Western Scotland: Isle of Mull

Southern Scotland: Dumfries and Galloway coast

Getting there and getting around:

I used my own car for the whole trip.

I stayed at Travelodges in Grantham, Stirling, Inverness, Kilmarnock and Preston-Chorley, taking advantage of pre-booked sale prices.

On the Isle of Mull, I stayed at the Argyll Arms in Bunessan on the Ross of Mull.

Weather:

My car dashboard produces a “snowflake” warning light when outside temperatures drop to 5 degrees or below. For the duration of my trip, I had a permanent “snowflake”!

In Norfolk there was still some lying snow after the pre-Christmas weather and the days were cold but very sunny.

In Scotland there was a lot of snow and ice! Central Scotland was exceptionally cold and sunny whilst the majority of my time in the Highlands was even colder but with plenty of grey and cloudy weather and some freezing fog. The coldest temperature of my trip was recorded around Blair Atholl in Perthshire at minus 18 degrees!

Mull had much less snow but temperatures at or below freezing meant that there was still plenty of ice to negotiate on untreated roads. My days on Mull were very sunny.

Dumfries and Galloway in southern Scotland also had much less snow than further north but it remained cold although very sunny.

Highlights:

During my trip, I was able to record 111 bird species and 10 mammal species.

Trip list - north Norfolk and Scotland

The main highlights of my trip, apart from the snowy “winter wonderland” in Scotland, were a stunning male King Eider off the Moray Firth coast, White-tailed and Golden Eagles on Mull, a family group of 3 Otters seen on all 3 days on Mull and my first "English" Otters at Strumpshaw Fen in Norfolk.

The following summarises the notable wildlife species seen on my trip.

Strumpshaw Fen and Buckenham Marshes RSPB reserve: Otter (excellent close views of 3 individuals for at least 20 minutes), Chinese Water Deer (2), Bittern (1), Peregrine (2)

Stubb Mill, Hickling: Chinese Water Deer (3-5), Common Crane (17 flying in to roost), Marsh Harrier (c.30), Merlin (1), Barn Owl (2)

Titchwell-Choseley area: Tundra Bean Goose (2), Pink-footed Goose (large flock)

Firth of Forth (Gosford Bay): Long-tailed Duck (c.10), Eider (large flock), Common Scoter (large flock), Velvet Scoter (c.20), Red-necked Grebe (1), Slavonian Grebe (c.30), Red-throated Diver (3)

Firth of Forth (Portobello): Long-tailed Duck (5), Goldeneye (10)

Drumochter Pass: Red Deer (c.10 close to main A9 road), Red Grouse (5 flying over A9)

Glenmore, Speyside: Crested Tit (1 at bird feeders)

Moray Firth (Lossiemouth): Snow Bunting (c.10), Wigeon (very large flock)

Moray Firth (Hopeman): Purple Sandpiper (c.35)

Moray Firth (Burghead): King Eider (male amongst small flock of Eider), Long-tailed Duck (c.25), Red-throated Diver (1)

Moray Firth (Nairn): Long-tailed Duck (c.10)

Inverness area (Culbokie to Balblair): Red Kite (1)

Mull (Loch na Keal): White-tailed Eagle (1), Slavonian Grebe (1)

Mull (Loch Scridain): Otter (family group of 3 on 3 days; total of 6 individuals on 1 day), Common Seal (2), Great Northern Diver (up to 5 on 3 days)

Mull (Pennyghael): Red Deer (6), Barn Owl (1)

Mull (Fidden): Common Seal (5), Merlin (1), Hen Harrier (2 females), White-fronted Goose (c.25)

Mull (Glen More): Golden Eagle (2), Red Deer (1)

Mull (Knock): Fallow Deer (3), Red Deer (1); Golden Eagle (2), Peregrine (1)

Mull (Salen): White-tailed Eagle (1)

Dumfries and Galloway (Loch Ryan): Scaup (large flock), Eider (large flock), Wigeon (large flock), Long-tailed Duck (5), Red-necked Grebe (1), Slavonian Grebe (1)

Dumfries and Galloway (Caerlaverock): Barnacle Goose (large numbers), Brambling (male at bird feeders)

Dumfries and Galloway (Southerness): Barnacle Goose (large numbers)

Dumfries and Galloway (Ruthwell): Whooper Swan (c.50)

Disappointments:

Although there was a snowy “winter wonderland” in Scotland, the weather did prevent me taking a large number of landscape photos due to either very sunny/high contrast or very grey/low contrast days, not to mention the difficulty in accessing snow blocked roads.

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