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Thread: Caithness does it again

  1. #1
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    Default Caithness does it again

    Got back a couple of days ago after a great time spent, including birdwatching.
    Buzzards,kestrels, sparrow hawks, fieldfares,redwings,lapwings,curlews,dunnocks,hoop er swans,northern divers,herons.eiders,greylags,white fronted geese,canada geese,shelducks,pin tails etc etc.
    Don't have a picture but think we also saw a crossbill a bright red bird with a few darker speckles sitting in a conifer but had a car on our rear bumper so had to move on.
    The mating dance of the eiders with their very sexy "Hoooo" call kept us entertained for several minutes.
    Will post a couple of pics when I have time.

  2. #2
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    Oct 2002
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    Wick
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    Default

    Glad you enjoyed your trip north, you were so looking forward to getting here. You certainly clocked up quite a list whilst you were here.

    Out of curiosity, where did you see the Canada Geese? I have only seen Greylag and White Fronted Geese so far this season.

    Looking forward to the pics.

    Keep the info coming.

    Thanks
    Catherine

  3. #3
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    Jun 2006
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    Hi Lizz

    Are you sure the Canada Geese weren't Barnacles, we do get them up here, it's very rare to see Canada's!

    nirofo.

  4. #4
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    Default

    Quote Originally Posted by LIZZ View Post
    Got back a couple of days ago after a great time spent, including birdwatching....shelducks

    I know its been warm down there for January but shellducks?
    God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    Courage to change the things I can,
    And wisdom to know the difference.

  5. #5
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    Default Geese

    Thanks for the responses and as regards the Canada Geese could have been mistaken but they seemed rather large and had a very distinctive dark necks.Have only ever seen a few on my travels north, just south of Golspie where the fields tend to flood between the road and the shore.
    If my identification is wrong no doubt some one will be able to tell me.
    The Shellducks were spotted on Cromarty Firth a small group about 10 in all.

  6. #6
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    Default Eiders at Scrabster


  7. #7
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    Default Geese Strathalladale


  8. #8

    Default

    Canada Geese from East of England do come North to moult and can be seen every year in the Cromarty Firth. I saw them last year opposite the Skiach service station. At least once about 30 years ago they overshot and moulted at Loch Rangag on the Causeymire. I suppose it could have happened again but this is the wrong time of year for the moulting flock.
    Conversely Shelducks go South to moult - to Heligoland Bight or the Wash I think. But I suppose it is possible for Shelducks to be here just now.

  9. #9

    Default

    Canada Goose is a fairly rare bird in Caithness and winter records usually refer to one of the Canadian subspecies, usually Richardson's Canada Goose B c hutchinsii or Lesser Canada Goose B c parvipes, rather than the introduced subspecies resident in the UK.

    They are fairly obvious to spot in the field especially when associating with Greylags or other grey geese. While the introduced UK subspecies is a large bird similiar in size to, or larger than, Greylag, Richardson's and Lesser are smaller than Greylag and this difference is obvious when they are together. Richardson's is really quite a small goose, similar in size to Barnacle, with an obviously short bill. Lesser is intermediate in size between Richardson's and Common and has medium sized bill.

    Richardsons's breeds in the far north of Canada along the north coast of Northwest Territories and Nunavut from the Melville Peninsula to the Amundsen Gulf. Lesser has a more widespread breeding range through Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon and in to Alaska. Both are long distance migrants within North America (Richardson's wintering on the Texas Gulf coast and in New Mexico, Lesser in New Mexico and west Texas and adjoining states) hence the possibilty of vagrancy to this side of the Atlantic, where they are recorded anually.

    There are two ringing recoveries of birds moving between USA and UK - one in each direction. One explanation for transatlantic vagancy is that the Canada Geese attach to and migrate with Greenland White-fronted Geese. Which fits in with their appearance in Caithness as we have a wintering population of Greenlands.

    Some of the introduced UK birds have developed a moult migration (since 1950) which mirrors the same behaviour in North America. Several hundred birds from England migrate to the Beauly Firth area to moult, this involves only a small percentage of the total UK population with the majority of the birds originating from Yorkshire and the West Midlands. I have seen them as far north as Ardgay on the Kyles of Sutherland, but never in the Golspie area, which is a regular wintering ground for the Greylags which breed in Sutherland and Caithness. The English birds usually return south at the end of August or early September.

    It would be very unusual to see a flock of Canada Geese in Caithness or Sutherland in winter, as the English birds should have departed and the North American vagrants usually number only in ones and twos.

  10. #10

    Default

    Lizz could have seen Canada Geese in south east Sutherland. In his book "The Birds of Sutherland" Alan Vittery says of Canada Geese that breeding was first proved in 1988. To quote him "There were six pairs at Loch Ospisdale in 1995. Winter flocks were established by the early 1990's: upto 19 at Bonar Bridge/Kyle of Sutherland in February and a maximum of 22 there on 13 December 1992".

    Canada Goose is a fairly rare bird in Caithness and winter records usually refer to one of the Canadian subspecies, usually Richardson's Canada Goose B c hutchinsii or Lesser Canada Goose B c parvipes, rather than the introduced subspecies resident in the UK.

    They are fairly obvious to spot in the field especially when associating with Greylags or other grey geese. While the introduced UK subspecies is a large bird similiar in size to, or larger than, Greylag, Richardson's and Lesser are smaller than Greylag and this difference is obvious when they are together. Richardson's is really quite a small goose, similar in size to Barnacle, with an obviously short bill. Lesser is intermediate in size between Richardson's and Common and has medium sized bill.

    Richardsons's breeds in the far north of Canada along the north coast of Northwest Territories and Nunavut from the Melville Peninsula to the Amundsen Gulf. Lesser has a more widespread breeding range through Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon and in to Alaska. Both are long distance migrants within North America (Richardson's wintering on the Texas Gulf coast and in New Mexico, Lesser in New Mexico and west Texas and adjoining states) hence the possibilty of vagrancy to this side of the Atlantic, where they are recorded anually.

    There are two ringing recoveries of birds moving between USA and UK - one in each direction. One explanation for transatlantic vagancy is that the Canada Geese attach to and migrate with Greenland White-fronted Geese. Which fits in with their appearance in Caithness as we have a wintering population of Greenlands.

    Some of the introduced UK birds have developed a moult migration (since 1950) which mirrors the same behaviour in North America. Several hundred birds from England migrate to the Beauly Firth area to moult, this involves only a small percentage of the total UK population with the majority of the birds originating from Yorkshire and the West Midlands. I have seen them as far north as Ardgay on the Kyles of Sutherland, but never in the Golspie area, which is a regular wintering ground for the Greylags which breed in Sutherland and Caithness. The English birds usually return south at the end of August or early September.

  11. #11

    Default

    Canada Goose is a fairly rare bird in Caithness and winter records usually refer to one of the Canadian subspecies, usually Richardson's Canada Goose B c hutchinsii or Lesser Canada Goose B c parvipes, rather than the introduced subspecies resident in the UK.

    They are fairly obvious to spot in the field especially when associating with Greylags or other grey geese. While the introduced UK subspecies is a large bird similiar in size to, or larger than, Greylag, Richardson's and Lesser are smaller than Greylag and this difference is obvious when they are together. Richardson's is really quite a small goose, similar in size to Barnacle, with an obviously short bill. Lesser is intermediate in size between Richardson's and Common and has medium sized bill.

    Richardsons's breeds in the far north of Canada along the north coast of Northwest Territories and Nunavut from the Melville Peninsula to the Amundsen Gulf. Lesser has a more widespread breeding range through Nunavut, Northwest Territories, Yukon and in to Alaska. Both are long distance migrants within North America (Richardson's wintering on the Texas Gulf coast and in New Mexico, Lesser in New Mexico and west Texas and adjoining states) hence the possibilty of vagrancy to this side of the Atlantic, where they are recorded anually.

    There are two ringing recoveries of birds moving between USA and UK - one in each direction. One explanation for transatlantic vagancy is that the Canada Geese attach to and migrate with Greenland White-fronted Geese. Which fits in with their appearance in Caithness as we have a wintering population of Greenlands.

    Some of the introduced UK birds have developed a moult migration (since 1950) which mirrors the same behaviour in North America. Several hundred birds from England migrate to the Beauly Firth area to moult, this involves only a small percentage of the total UK population with the majority of the birds originating from Yorkshire and the West Midlands. I have seen them as far north as Ardgay on the Kyles of Sutherland, but never in the Golspie area, which is a regular wintering ground for the Greylags which breed in Sutherland and Caithness. The English birds usually return south at the end of August or early September.

    It would be very unusual to see a flock of Canada Geese in Caithness or Sutherland in winter, as the English birds should have departed and the North American vagrants usually number only in ones and twos.

  12. #12
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    Default Canada Geese

    Many thanks to those who have taken the trouble to research and post on this siting the information is much appreciated.
    I have never seen this particuliar species other than in the area mentioned and never what I would call a true flock.
    Unfortunately the A9 is rather narrow through this section and there are few places where it would be possible to pull over and try to take photographs however I do usually have a high powered pair of binoculars to hand.
    Do get large flocks of them overwintering along the coast from here , they are a wonderful sight.

  13. #13
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    Default With a little help from Sutherland

    Just got back from a trip to the far north and once again the birdwatching was superb.
    We were delighted to see so many juvenile Eiders all along the coast so too with a large flock of Common Terns, Ringed Plovers,Redshanks,Turnstones, Oystercatchers.Gannets and Skuas and the many gulls of which there seemed to be quite alot of Black Backed.
    Inland the Buzzards seem to have spread across both counties in ever increasing numbers. A few Sparrow Hawks, several Kestrels but sadly no Hen Hariiers.
    Strathhalladale also threw up a few surprises, a large flock of Fieldfares, Dunnocks, Robins and several types of finch. including Goldfinches and Chaffinches who were very busy denuding a large stand of thistles.
    The best moments were spotting a juvenile robin who just happened to land next to us, getting a fly past by a Heron, saw a few but not as many as usual.Sitting at Portskerra watching The Gannets fishing and being harried by a Skua.
    Here's to the next trip north in a different season.

  14. #14
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    Default Redshank



    Managed to catch this one near the mouth of Thurso river

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