From here we headed to Meikle Loch, where frankly I didn't expect to see much. I was wrong in my prejudgement. Shortly after we arrived a flurry of wildfowl took to the air. Amongst them I spotted ia big, sandy coloured bird with hugely prominent white wing bars. My initial reaction was 'What the hell?!', but I soon regained my senses and discovered what species I was seeing. It was an Egyptian Goose. It was sort of extraordinary when I latched onto this bird, as I have never seen one in Aberdeenshire before, let alone on the Ythan Estuary or Meikle Loch. There was no mistaking it, and was too big/sandy coloured for it to be the other wildfowl species that has prominent white wing bars - Ruddy Shelduck. It's head was also too pale for Ruddy Shelduck and I could see a shade of green towards the wing. Annoyingly, it flew some way from its originally location on the Loch and landed in the fields behind. Here it annoyingly went of view. However, a few minutes later it flew back onto the Loch, sticking at the very back. This meant views weren't all that satisfactory, but through the scope you could easily see that it was an Egyptian Goose. It stayed near the back of the Loch for another few minutes and then flew off completely, heading south-east. What a strange bird to see! When it had disappeared, my mind puzzled as to why this bird was in North-east Scotland and of its origins. Was it a bird that was part of the established stronghold of Egyptian Geese in southern England and had migrated up to Scotland? Was it an escape? I doubted the latter, as it was incredibly flighty and only stayed on the Loch for about 10 minutes. Later that day I reported the bird on Birdguides and Birdforum and my Dad on ABZ Rare Birds. Just today, I got a response from an aberdeenshire birder on Birdforum who told me that the only other record of Egyptian Goose in North-east Scotland ever was a bird at New Deer in 2009. He told me that this possible made the sighting very significant, which makes me feel quite excited. On the other hand, he did mention that it is hard to know whether the credentials of such a bird would be suitable for one of the birds from the established strongholds in Norfolk and southern England. Having checked Birdguides I have noticed that an Egyptian Goose was seen last week in Shetland, so I'm half inclined to think that it may be the same bird that was seen in Shetland. However, it could also be one of the birds from a small stronghold in the Gosford Estate, Lothian. These are just possibilities. Its actual origins still remain clouded in ambiguity... My Dad and I aren't the only people to have seen it, as one person reported that it was seen on the Estuary itself an hour and a half after we'd seen it fly off. It hasn't been seen since, as far as I'm aware. An interesting one... I did year tick it, which now means that my year list is on 131 species.
From Meikle Loch we headed to Collieston where we stopped briefly for a look out at sea. There wasn't too much going past at all apart from a few Fulmars, some Guillemots, a couple of Gannets and a Kittiwake. The rocks by the sea there regularly provide Wheatears, but there were none there when I looked. From here, we went on a walk from the car park at the north end of the Ythan Estuary and into the Forvie National Nature Reserve, an area of coastal moorland which can provide migrants and the like. Unfortunately there were no migrants present here, but the area wasn't completely devoid of birds. Dozens of Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were singing and taking to the thermals of the area. It was a lovely to see them enjoying the early spring sun. Because the weather was so nice, I thought it would be a good idea to take a few pictures at Collieston and the Ythan. The first two are from Collieston, whilst the latter is a view looking west from Forvie.
Now that really is all I'm going to post in here until I get back from Portland! I hope I have a lot to report to you, as I'll be going to several places in Dorset, Hampshire and on the first part of my holiday, Somerset. Before I go to Portland I'm going to be spending a week in Somerset with family. On one day (maybe next Saturday) I hope to go to Chew Valley Lake, where Ferruginous Duck and Lesser Scaup have been seen recently, and on the other day I hope to go to Ham Wall/Shapwick Heath where a Great White Egret has been seen recently. When staying in Portland it is likely that I'll spend quite a bit of time in the areas round the observatory, but I will almost certainly visit places like Ferrybridge, Portland and Poole Harbour, Arne RSPB, Radipole Lake and Lodmoor RSPB. I may also visit places in Hampshire if Portland is quite quiet (for example Blashford Lakes). I have got my target birds for the trip, but I won't mention these to you until I get back. Anyhow, I'm leaving for England on Tuesday. I'm immensely looking forward to staying in Portland, and hopefully will enjoy reporting back my trip in here.
Thanks for reading and happy birding,