Scotland in Style: Birds & History Apr 29—May 08, 2018

Posted by Andrew Whittaker

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Andrew Whittaker

Andrew Whittaker, a senior member of the VENT staff, has led VENT tours since 1993 throughout Brazil, Peru, Chile, Bolivia, Colombia, Argentina, Costa Rica, Panama, Europe,...

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There is an extremely good reason why Scotland is often referred to as Bonny Scotland. This year, more than ever, the scenery was breathtaking, and we enjoyed superb birding amongst vibrantly colorful glens rich both in wildflowers and the incredible fresh hues of spring greens. This tour was a wonderful combination of delving into a wealth of Scottish history, from castles and stately homes to wild windswept battlefields, and warming up the cockles of our hearts with a wee dram on a visit to one of the world’s finest Scots Whisky Distilleries. Really, what more can one ask for? Shared with a great group of warm friendly people, based in a single superb historic (birding) hotel located in the charming town of Granton on Spey offering marvelous hospitality, and being treated like royalty as we enjoyed superb meals (we all certainly gained a little weight)—certainly life can’t get much better!

Black Grouse displaying at lek

Black Grouse displaying at lek— Photo: Andrew Whittaker

 

This year in the UK, despite record hot April temperatures, spring was almost three weeks late! However, we were mostly blessed with wonderful spring weather throughout our birding. Highlights were many; none of us will ever forget the stunning scope studies of those six male Black Grouse (on their lek as they carried out their odd rituals) in all their glory, their odd calls echoing over the early morning on that stunning bleak moor, while the romantic calls of displaying Eurasian Curlews filled the air, and a truly breathtaking flock of four male Mandarin Ducks simply blazed with colors.

Voted number one bird of the tour, we had exceptional daytime studies of wonderful pairs of responsive Tawny Owls. Other highlights included repeated Red Grouse studies and Rock Ptarmigans. My personal highlight, however, was the singing territorial Redwing we found—an exceptionally rare breeder in Scotland and a cool-looker with a great song!

Read Andrew’s full report in his Field Report.