Lost Geordie On Tour - Scotland May 2016 (3)

Ring Ouzels, Coire na Ciste, Cairngorm
Welcome to my third installment of this years Scottish (mainly) tour. I say mainly because from King's Lynn, Norfolk I stopped at Saltholme, Cresswell, Druridge Bay, Skateraw, Cairngorms, Skye and North Uist (pre Black-billed Cuckoo! don't get me started). Then I did the same in reverse, minus the Cairngorms but adding Amble Links and Frampton on the way home.
This episode. May 13th, is focused on the area from Loch Garten to Cairngorm Summit. I cleaned up with the exception of Capercaillie.
I awoke at some stupid, ungodly, hour and decided I would head up to Coire na Ciste (this means "Blame the Chest" in Gaelic...don't know why they called it that though) to look for Black Grouse from the Grouse watch point. On the way I stopped at the, now blocked up, Moormore picnic site. There is an Osprey nest on the moor there and I decided to give it a look. The female could clearly be seen sitting on the nest. A pair of Spotted Flycatchers were also present. There was no sign of Capercaillie although I have had them here several times along with Crested Tit.
As I was looking at the Osprey a minibus full of mad birders stopped. They had driven through the night from Derbyshire and looked positively knackered. They had been to Coire na Ciste beforehand and saw no Grouse. I could see some specks moving around the moor between the Osprey and the Sled Dog Station. Black Grouse lekking with fluffy, white, backsides in the air! There were lots of males and some females present giving between 15 and 20 birds. Amazing, I know, but it got better. Siskins were very common but then a flock of Crossbills could be heard flying about and they landed pretty close. One of the Derbyshire birders said "That's a strange one". I looked at this brute of a male Crossbill. Head too big for its body, bill like an industrial can opener; too big for its head and absolutely no forehead. An obvious male Parrot Crossbill and a female nearby. Not even 8am yet.
I waved goodbye to some of Derbyshire's finest and headed for Loch Garten to look at the Crested Tit stake out. I stopped at Loch Pityoulish on the way and saw another 2 Ospreys and a pair of Red-throated Divers.
The Crested Tit site didn't pan out though there were more Spotted Flycatchers, Crossbills, Tree Pipit and Common Redstart. On the way back to the car a familiar call made me look up to see a Brambling flying overhead. Plenty of Cuckoos.

Spotted Flycatcher, Loch Garten
By this time I was flagging and I drove up to the Cairngorm car park and had a kip.
Afterwards I went for a stroll on the mountain and saw Red Grouse, Ptarmigan, Merlin and Ring Ouzel amongst others.
Further down at Coire na Ciste again I photographed a very obliging pair of Ring Ouzels, clearly nesting nearby alongside Wheatear, Willow Warbler, Robin and Dunnock. I had just finished when I sensed something behind me. I don't know who was more surprised, me or the Reindeer.

Ring Ouzels, Coire na Ciste
Meadow Pipit

Time marches on and it was getting late so I had a walk along the riverside at Allt Ban. Willow Warblers and Siskins were abundant and Spotted Flycatchers were only just, less common. No Dippers or Grey Wagtails but good views of a pair of Siskins collecting nesting material. A Common Redstart showed well and an elusive Crested Tit was found high in a pine tree. There were several Tree Pipits in adjacent trees. Nearby birders had also nailed down a large flock of Crossbills and the guys were kind enough to point out a few Scottish Crossbill. Bonus.

Industrious female Siskin
Not so industrious male Siskin
Long-tailed Tit
Willow Warbler

Spotted flycatcher
Tree Pipit

That's it for May 13th. The next blog is Aviemore to Uig, via Findhorn, Ruthven and Kylerhea. It will be here ASAP.