Given that the previous year’s Ormsary trip had been cancelled due to storms and generally abysmal weather, it was with a much greater sense of optimism that the 2015 trip began, given the blue skies and sunshine. Even a raw Northerly wind wasn’t enough to deter the ten hardy souls from a day of winter birding.
After the group coalesced around the estate office and picked up House Sparrows, Starlings and an unlikely Reed Bunting from around the cattle sheds, we moved down towards the shoreline, spotting Blue and Great Tits along the way, and catching passing Buzzards and Ravens. Before reaching the shore however, we were treated to a series of close-up views of a confiding Goldcrest among the trees. Robin and Dunnock were also seen at this point.
Once at the shore, the customary search for Divers and began, and soon enough, Great-Northerns were spotted out in Loch Caolisport, along with a more distant pair of Red-Throated. Rooks were present in the adjacent field, but a group of winter Thrushes which had been spotted en route to the office in the morning had mysteriously vanished.
The mystery proved to be short-lived however, with Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare all returning, and then promptly disappearing once again as the Sparrowhawk, presumably the cause of the original vanishing act, flashed along the trees at the back of the field. At this location we also picked up Eider Duck, Shag and a lone Cormorant.
We then proceeded to the small bay directly behind the fish-farm site, collecting Rock- and Meadow Pipits, and a Red-Breasted Merganser along the way. The bay itself is in winter home to no small number of Eider and Goldeneye, and rafts of both were present, along with some Mallard closer to the waters edge.
The fish-farm site is also an excellent spot for Gulls of various sorts, with various scarcities and rarities being found here in recent years. The last few weeks had seen the arrival of various ‘white-wingers’, so care was taken to pick through the congregation of several hundred Gulls. Within a short space of time we had located Iceland and Kumlien’s Gulls, with a beautifully bleached 1st winter Glaucous Gull having been spotted shortly before. Various ducks and waders were noted, along with the more regular Gull species. Just a short walk round the corner we found that precious winter commodity, the sun, and basked in it, adding Black Guillemot and Common Scoter to the list before lunch.
After sandwiches and hot drinks had been liberally consumed, we headed back out to take in a short loop through some mixed woodland behind the estate offices, which also provides a vantage point onto the open hillside where raptors were anticipated. After another up-close and personal Goldcrest encounter, we were treated to a Kestrel hovering above the lower slopes of the hillside. It looked as though Buzzards would provide the only larger raptors however, until a large silhouette was spotted on the distant skyline. Size alone seemed to guarantee an Eagle, but whether Golden or White-Tailed we could not be sure and being rather less obliging than the days Goldcrests, the bird drifted ever further away. On the return to the vehicles however, there was still time to make out the calls of Crossbills overhead before we arrived back at the estate office, pleased with both the days birding, and the weather.
Full Species List:
Starling, Blackbird, Chaffinch, Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit, House Sparrow, Common Buzzard, Raven, Reed Bunting, Robin, Great Tit, Coal Tit, Dunnock, Goldcrest, Herring Gull, Great-Northern Diver, Oystercatcher, Wren, Red-Throated Diver, Black-Headed Gull, Shag, Cormorant, Mistle Thrush, Redwing, Fieldfare, Rock Pipit, Sparrowhawk, Eider Duck, Meadow Pipit, Red-Breasted Merganser, Goldeneye, Mallard, Shelduck, Iceland Gull, Great Black-Backed Gull, Common Gull, Pied Wagtail, Redshank, Glaucous Gull, Kumlien’s Gull, Hooded Crow, Pheasant, Common Scoter, Black Guillemot, Greenfinch, Jay, Kestrel, Common Crossbill, Goldfinch, Song Thrush, Eagle sp.