Highlands of Scotland 5th-13th May 2018
The group of nine people, including the tour leader Tony Swandale, spent seven nights at the Boat Inn in Boat of Garten, Speyside. The hotel was within walking distance of the RSPB's famous Loch Garten and well situated for exploring the Caledonian pine forest, lochs and Cairngorm Mountains. Other sites visited during our stay included the Cairngorm Mountain Centre and Loch Morlich, the Findhorn Valley (Strathdearn), Loch Ruthven, Lochindorb, Craigellercie National Nature Reserve and the coast between Spey Bay and Port George.
A total of 115 species of bird were recorded. The highlights were as follows: osprey, ptarmigan, capercaillie, black grouse, snow bunting, ring ouzel, wood warbler, redstart, dipper, crested tit, crossbill (possibly the endemic Scottish species), black and red-throated diver, Arctic and great skua, eider, goosander and goldeneye.
Mammals seen included red and roe deer, grey seal, mountain hare and bottlenose dolphin.
A trip report and full species list is available upon request.
Postscript. Photographs of the crossbills were sent to two experienced Scottish ornithologists for their opinions. Although this is a difficult area of research both agree their bill structure is consistent with that of Scottish crossbill.