Happy New Year!
I hope you, like me, managed to get out on 1st January to officially start the new birding year.  The weather here was bright but with a cold wind, but a good couple of hours checking out spots along the Moray coastline yielded good views of Snow Bunting, Red-throated Divers, plus a very unseasonal Sandwich Tern, still in winter plumage, and it forced a quick check of the Collins' Bird Guide to make sure it wasn't a vagrant Forster's Tern which can look similar in some respects!  Currently we're seeing large numbers of Little Auks enter the Firth, and that day was no exception with small groups passing by throughout our time there.  My iPhone has a bird alert application which 'pings' for Highland and Moray unusual bird sightings, and it's been going off constantly these past few days thanks to these great wee birds passing birdwatchers at wave top height.

A male Snow Bunting

Not much flooding here, but...

We've been very lucky compared to many that have suffered disruption and destruction due to the recent rainfall and subsequent flooding.  Leaving the political issues attached to the nightmares folk have suffered to the many voices on the subject, spare a thought for the wildlife.  As I said, here in Moray it's not been too bad, though rivers and burns are high and fast and quite dangerous.

It was a sad sight on the A96 yesterday - an Otter cub had been knocked down whilst attempting to cross the road.  Another, possibly its sibling, had suffered the same fate about half a mile to the west about a week beforehand.  With a lochan not too far away and the Muckle Burn (that runs southwest off Findhorn Bay) nearby, clearly these were flooded to a point which forced them and at least one parent to take the dangerous overland route.  Such a shame.

New Year's Resolutions

I'm not really one for such things, being more of a person that decides to stop or start doing something no matter what a calendar says.  For 2016 however I've allowed myself two, well sort of.  The first (and probably the only proper resolution as defined) is to stop watching television news...those of you who know me or have seen my occasional splutterings on Facebook will already know of my contempt in the quality of reporting, and then selective editing of what we're told about anything.  So it's important for me - and wildlife and environmental issues are key here - that I just take a wee bit more time and draw my own conclusions and make my own 'news cycle' from various outlets, especially those that are a lot closer to the subject matter than any news organisation.

The second resolution - if it can be termed as that - is to get one particular new bird on the A9Birds HQ garden list.  Many birders keep an informal list of birds seen in or from the confines of their home boundary, and having that particularly male thing of keeping lists maintain one too.  As an aside, the only other bird list I keep is a life list - that's all the bird species I've seen, ever and wherever.  Thanks to the way I keep my records I could generate UK, Scottish or Moray lists, but choose not to as I'm not a 'twitcher' by any means, so to bump into a species locally that I've only seen in the USA, for example, would be nice but nothing to lose sleep and waste fuel over. 

So, what bird is it I seek to enter A9Birds HQ's airspace?  This one:

That's right - the wonderful Sea Eagle.  One or two have come tantalisingly close, indeed probably have overflown the cottage unseen by anyone or at least the uninformed...but I hope for the day when that massive shape appears in the sky.  It probably won't yield a photo like the one above, indeed knowing my luck I won't be anywhere near the camera (Hen Harriers are great for that!)...but you never know.  And that's the fun of birding, no matter where you are.

Happy birding


A9Birds is a birdwatching and wildlife photography company based in Moray, covering the local area including Strathspey, the Moray Firth and Inverness-shire.  Please see our website for details of what we can offer you, and why not keep up to date with our sightings and photos on our Facebook page.  All photos on this page are copyright Mike Crutch/A9Birds.


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