A drive north, with our first stop at Loch Eye where there was a flock of around 200 finches, including Brambling, Lesser Redpoll and Twite, amongst them were 4 Mealy now called Common Redpolls. A female Hen Harrier was seen, 200+ Greylag Geese and flying with a group of 6 Greylags an immature Snow Goose, a new bird for us, later it was seen for longer in fields by the Loch with the Greylag flock. We continued on to Loch Fleet, where all we saw were 4 Whooper Swans and a Red-breasted Merganser.
Arriving at Golspie we followed the coast towards Littleferry, offshore were masses of Eiders and Long-tailed Ducks, and on the beach an adult Glaucous Gull. At Littleferry again masses of Long-tailed Ducks and Eiders and amongst the Eiders a male King Eider, another new bird for us. Also on the water we saw a Great Northern Diver, lots of Common Scoter and a Red-breasted Merganser. On the shore there was a flock of around 30 Snow Buntings and about 60 Twite, and we also saw a male Hen Harrier.
Glaucous Gull, winter plumaged adult.
Still in the south of France where the best birds seen today were 2 Blue Rock Thrushes and 59 Little Bustards.
A visit to Chew Valley Lake, clear blue sky with snow still covering the ground and cold. The lake was frozen except for a few small pools in the ice, where there were 40+ Goosanders, lots of Goldeneyes, 5 Ruddy Ducks, 4 Pintail and lots of other commoner ducks. At Herriott's pool around 15 Wigeon flew in with a male American Wigeon, they stayed to bath and preen and 20 minutes later flew off. Also of note around the lake were 3 Water Rails, 15 Dunlin, only 1 Fieldfare and a Barn Owl.
A very cold, bright, sunny day. At Chew Valley Lake the Greater Sand Plover, which had arrived in November, was still on view but ranging over more of the lake. Also there were around 25 Dunlin, 100+ Lapwing and a Golden Plover. On the lake were 25+ Goosander, over 200 Ruddy Ducks and a female Smew. At Blagdon Lake there was an immature Great Northern Diver and at least 5 more Goosanders.
Greater Sand Plover
A very cold, clear, still day and a visit to Barrow Guerney reservoirs, where there was a flock of 25 Bramblings, on the water were 4 Goosanders and about 8 Goldeneyes. At Chew Valley lake there were 235 Ruddy Ducks, a Red-necked Grebe, an adult Mediterranean Gull and a Chiffchaff.
My first full day in South Island New Zealand, along the Otago Peninsula, ten new bird species today, Little Pied Cormorant, Grey Warbler, Variable Oystercatcher, Little Penguin, Northern Royal Albatross, Yellow-eyed Penguin, Spotted Shag, Bronze Shag, White-faced Heron and Pied Stilt.
Photo: Adult Spotted Shag.