As we said goodbye to one lot of guests who had now become friends, we had a break before meeting a new group, taking time to suss out any new birding arrivals and changes to the local scenery.
All the anticipated species at Udale Bay were seen, with a final list of 50 species being recorded for the day.
On our second day a slow drive around Lochindorb brought the anticipated Red Grouse sightings and also great views of a couple of red squirrels in the plantation. Moving on from there Strathdearn was to be our destination, stopping at various points along the Strath observing whatever came into view. At a stop where the side burn flows in, close to the end of the Glenmazeran estate, we had great views of spawning salmon with their dorsal and adipose fins projecting through the water’s surface, a flyby Dipper and a couple of low level Red Deer stags gave our day more interest, but the best was yet to come!
About halfway down the Strath where it is intersected by a narrow valley from the South, a quick solo observation was made, the cry Sea Eagle went up asking everyone to stay in the van we drove further down the strath so we could observe this leviathan of a bird coming towards us. Once we all got out of our vehicle, spectacular views of this beauty not from below but from above, with its massive beak and lillywhite tail. It was following the river clearly in pursuit of any Salmon that may have dropped their guard whilst in their spawning frenzy. As we observed the bird for many minutes before it rose up the hillside to give us one last hurrah as it sailed over the tops, it was clear from the comments and smiling faces that this had been a special moment for all of us.
The forecast for the following day was truly awful with Spey Dam as our destination, after a 30-mile detour via Dalwhinnie due to road closures, the destination did not disappoint with Fallow deer in the enclosures but what proved to be spectacular numbers of Red Deer throughout the glen, if anything the awful weather and the scenery made our observations more realistic. It was certainly not weather to be spent standing outside taking photographs.
.A visit to the Grantown museum proved to be a hit on our wallets as Elaine bought a framed Chris Rose print and I ordered a Justin Prigmore print of otters, both will be valuable additions to our walls.
Our penultimate day around Spey bay and Lossiemouth was a list busting day with a grand total of 64 species being seen over a variety of differing habitats, the weather was glorious after the depressing low cloud of the previous one. We had some of what I refer to as bonus birds, ones that you would never actually set out to see but they just happen during your day. On this occasion a Grey wagtail in Lossiemouth harbour, a Woodcock and a Kingfisher at Loch Spynie, it is these that turn a great day into a sublime one.
After showering and dinner our fun quiz was won outright with no need for a tie break for a change.
Again, a great group with the group dynamics set very early in the week, we had some great sightings accompanied with a lorra laughs as Cilla Black would say. The autumn colour had certainly faded as October passed but a grand total of 94 species were seen at a leisurely pace, after all it is always about the watching not the listing.
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