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MAY 2006

By Stephen Burch, England

This hardly qualifies as a trip report, since it is based on less than a full day of birding. It is more of an excuse to show some of the pics obtained with my new toy - a DSLR (Canon 350D with EF 400mm lens & 1.4 x converter).

As usual, a business trip to Aberdeen provided the opportunity for a little extra birding tacked on. This comprised a brief evening visit to the cliff top RSPB reserve of Fowlsheugh and a day on Speyside (from 05:30 to 14:00),

This cliff top reserve is situated south of Aberdeen near Stonehaven, from which boat trips can be taken to view the bird cliffs. However with only a couple of hours maximum available this was not possible. This is low key RSPB reserve, without even a sign to it from the main road, and a simple space for a few cars to park by the road, a path and a noticeboard.

Nevertherless, this was a good place for some DSLR practice, as it was possible to get pretty close to the birds in places, though care is clearly needed near the edge! The best conditions would be a morning visit in sunny weather, so the light shines on the birds. I had an evening visit with only a little sun which didn't help as all the birds were in shade.

Razorbill (click on right image to enlarge)


Guillemot (click to enlarge)


I started my day in Speyside at 05:30 - at the RSPB's Loch Garten reserve for the "Caperwatch" . Unfortunately the weather was poor - light rain and consequently dull conditions. However, shortly after arrival, a male Capercaillie was spotted and we all moved the short distance to a more forward hide for very distant, murky views. The bird eventually showed reasonably well, but photography was extremely difficult. I got this record shot by digiscoping - the bird was far too distant for the DSLR. No prizes for this one!

On the return from the Osprey hide (from which an Osprey head could just be discerned), I was fortunate to connect with a Crested Tit right by the path. At the feeders by the car park visitor center, there were two Red Squirrels.

The nearby Tulloch Moor had singing Tree Pipit and Whinchat in the still early morning rain! Somewhat further on, Loch Morlich had Goldeneye, as well as Wigeon and Teal. Last time I was here (August 2003), the family & I were swimming! No chance today!

The rest of the day was also poor weatherwise, with light rain alternating with heavier bursts. So photography was far from easy. Here is a selection of shots obtained, mostly with the DSLR.

The wader pics, apart from the Snipe, were from Lochindorb which was good, as the car could be used as a hide to closely approach birds on the near shore. The Snipe was sitting nicely on a post by a road - again I used the car as a hide.

Osprey (digiscope)

Osprey fishing over Lochindorb (DSLR)

Common Snipe (DSLR) (click to enlarge)

Common Sandpiper at Lochindorb (DSLR) (click to enlarge)

Slavonian Grebe (DSLR - but too distant!)

Redshank (DSLR)

All pictures copyright Stephen Burch

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