Scotland in August 2011

Published by Antonio Rodriguez (arodris AT

Participants: Antonio Rodriguez, Marti Rodriguez, Ester Garcia


You have the complete report of the trip to Scotland in my blog:
where you can see pictures and maps with routes.

As last year it was terribly hot, this year we though to escape of it. Thus, we decided to spent our vacations in Scotland. We knew that it was a goog destination, both for birding, and for history and landscapes. We also knew that august was not the best time to do birding, as seabirds probably were not in their nesting colonies. In fact, this was the case, with the exception of Bass Rock. Despite that, we decided to try with Scotland, and although colonies were empty, birds were in the sea around. Obviously, all accompanied with a continuous rain.

1. Edinburgh.

We arrived to Edinburgh, were we spent a couple of days, visiting the city. Both herring and lesser black-backed gulls were abundant in all the city, as other species in the gardens, as those in the Holyroodhouse Palace.

2. Borders & Lothians: Bass Rock, Aberlady Bay, Peebles and around.

After our visit to Edinburgh, we moved to the south, where, in addition to the important colony of northern gannets at Bass Rock and the Aberlady marshes, there is plenty of monuments, both castles and abbeys.

There was no place free at Bass Rock nesting colony. Moreover, it was easy to see puffins, guillemots, gulls and seals. However, not to much to see in Aberlady Bay, although it seemed interesting to visit it in other seasons. Only some gulls and a whimbrel.

After those visits, we moved to a Bed and Breakfast in Peebles. An excursion to Tweed river is interesing (grey heron, rook, grey wagtail, rabbits). Furthermore, this was our departing point to visit several castles and abbeys.

3. Central Scotland: Vane Farm, Loch Leven, Loch of the Lowes, The Hermitage, Pitlochry.

From Peebles, we moved to Pitlochry, to reach, thereafter, the Highlands. In the way, we visited Vane Farm, a reserve of the Royal Society for Protection of Birds (RSPB) and Loch Leven. Building works at Vane Farm made that birds were not there. However, goose and ducks were at Loch Leven.

In Dunkeld there are two interesting visits, Loch of the Lowes, with pandion, and several passerines at the feeders. The Hermitage is a beautiful excursion following the course of a river.

4. Highlands: Cairngorms National Park.

Our first visit inside the Cairngorms National Park was to Spittal of Glenmuick. We knew that it was easy to find both red and fallow deers, and grouses. We saw both deer species, but not the grouses. However, there was a red-throated diver, and passerines at the feeders.

In Loch Garten there is a pandion pair nesting. In addition, this is a good spot to see scotish crossbill, although we did not see any. More passerines at the feeders, and obviously, more rain. I recommend to arrive to Loch Mallachie.

South to Aviemore there are a place known as Insh marshes, together with Ruthven Barracks, that are interesting to visit. Marshes were, however empty of life.

We took the train to the Cairng Gorm. There there are guided tours, but the weather was so bad (visibility 5 m, hard winds, etc) that we could not see anything. When we came bakc, we saw some caribous.

A visit to Rothiemurchus is highly recommended. They have a hide from which it is easy to see red deers, badgers and pine marten, looking for the food offered.

5. Highlands: North to the Cairgorms National Park: Lochindorb, Fort George, Chanonry Point, Udale Bay, Loch Fleet, and Falls of Shin.

Next stop was Inverness. In route, we visited Lochindorb where it was really easy to see red grouse. We did not have time to go to Handa Island, in the west coast of Scotland. May be next time.

More to the north, we visited Crawdor Castle and Fort George, where we could see some gulls and oystercatchers.

After sleeping in Inverness, we visited Chanonry Point, where it is easy to see dolphins. Although we were not lucky, in part due to rain, we saw great black-backed gulls, parasitic jaeger, and herring gulls.

Udale Bay was really interesting. Marshes with abundant birds: eurasian curlew, ducks, and several gulls, including laughing, common and herring.

Once crossed the bridge on Cromarty Firth it is interesting to stop to see the seals.

It is also interesting to stop in Loch Fleet, where we saw lots of species: oystercatcher, gulls, and some ducks. Falls of Shin are near Loch Fleet, and you can see salmons jumping in he water.

6. Route to Skye Island.

Skye island is interesting to visit due to the beautiful landscapes, although we saw few species. In route, several castles and the famous Loch Ness.

7. Route to Mull Island.

More productive regarding bird species than Skye. Tobermory, the capital merits also a short visit. Whalewathing trips depart from here. We took one, thus we had few time remaining to visit other places in the island.

8. From Mull to Edinburgh: Oban, Loch Lomond National Park.

Coming back to Edinburgh, after leaving the ship in Oban, we did a short stay at the Loch Lomond and The Trossachs National Park. Few species, with the exception of seabirds. Lots of oytercatcher, gulls and a guillemot near to our Bed and Breakfast.

As a summary, and after 16 out of 19 days with continuous rain, I show you in my blog the complete list of observed species (85 species of birds and 13 of mammals).

Species Lists

As a summary, and after 16 out of 19 days with continuous rain, I show you in my blog the complete list of observed species (85 species of birds and 13 of mammals).