If you go down to the coast today 26 December 2022

Avocet in rain Norfolk April 2018

You never know what you are going to see when you set out on a day's birdwatching!

With snow falling on the Cairngorm Mountains and icy conditions underfoot at Grantown on Spey, we were very glad that our guiding was taking us north to the coast near Burghead. It's about an hour's drive from the Grant Arms Hotel to Roseisle Forest Car Park just west of Burghead. Here we walked through the trees to a viewpoint overlooking the sea. Despite the bright sunshine, it was very cold and windy so the sea was whipped up into a white-capped choppiness. We did our best to spot birds in these poor conditions and managed to pick out a few Long-tailed Ducks, Common Scoter and Common Eider. However, the views were poor and we soon decided to move on.

At nearby Burghead harbour, we had wonderful close views of a flock of Common Eider in the harbour mouth as Ruddy Turnstones pottered along the harbour wall, but we were still being battered by the wind. We moved again, this time to the east side of Burghead peninsula. Here we had some shelter from the bitter wind and what a fantastic array of birds we enjoyed from this great vantage point. Both Great Northern and Red-throated Divers were seen, dozens of Long-tailed Ducks looking superb in the winter sun, flocks of Common Scoter with a single Velvet Scoter amongst one flock along with Common Eider, Goldeneye, Red-breasted Mergansers, a single Black Guillemot, Razorbills, Shags, Cormorants and a single immature Gannet were all offshore. We had a superb eye-level flypast from a male Peregrine, Rock Pipits whizzed about along the beach as they were blown by the wind, and the rocky beach also provided super close views of Purple Sandpipers, Ruddy Turnstones, Common Redshank and Oystercatchers.

Further west, we visited Findhorn Bay where it was high tide pushing many birds onto the marsh at the southern end of the bay. At our very first stop, Ruth spotted a white-and-black bird on the edge of the saltmarsh and exclaimed 'looks like an Avocet!' This would be a most unlikely species to occur in this area at any time of year, let alone on a bitter December day. The telescope was quickly on the piebald bird and wow! We could barely believe our eyes. It was in fact an Avocet! What on earth was it doing this far north in such bitter weather. Luckily this delicate wader was roosting quietly on the marsh and we were able to take some record photographs as we thought nobody would believe us! What a thrilling discovery and it just proves it never know what you are going to see on a day out birdwatching.

Twite Thornham Square

Always exciting to catch up with Twite

Also at Findhorn Bay we enjoyed a flock of 15 Twite, Bar-and Black-tailed Godwits, masses of Wigeon and Teal.

Come and join us for exciting and unpredictable birdwatching. See the details of our UK tours on :

UK Tours

We look forward to hearing from you and sharing exciting birds with you soon!

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