After a good nights sleep we awoke in a wet and cold Aberdeen. Having a number of hours to fill, and not waiting to be deterred by the weather we set off towards Aberdeen Harbour and Girdleness. In the harbour itself were a large number of gulls, mostly immature so we set about trying to ID them. In the end we concluded that there were numerous species – Herring, Common, Black-headed, Lesser Black-back and Great Black-backed Gulls as well as a few Kittiwakes which were nice and close to the path.
In addition to gulls, there were a number of waders on the walls around the harbour and on the beach. These turned out to be mostly Oystercatchers, with Redshanks, Turnstone and Curlews mixed in with them.
A seal then popped its head up, in between the Shags and cormorants, making us both rather excited although it is as rather distant. We became even more excited when I noticed a small auk – it was a Little Auk (lifer for me) and very nice too! Closer to the sea wall there were also Razorbills, and a singe Guillemot by the lighthouse. Great to see 3 Auk species at once. By the Guillemot were some resting Eiders as well.
It had been half an hour since we’d arrive at Girdleness and we began to realise how cold and wet we were so started retreating back to the city in search of a nice warm cafe. Luckily for us, one was open close to the harbour so we had our hot drinks, dried off, and watched more birds from the warmth of the inside. A number of Red-breasted Mergansers appeared during this time.
Feeling refreshed we set off again, this time towards the ferry port in preparation for the ferry crossing. While crossing Victoria bridge we spotted more ducks. This time it was a mixture of Mallards, Goosanders and also a few Red-breasted Mergansers. Nice to see Goosanders and Mergansers together for comparison!
At last it was time for the next section of our Northward journey – crossing the North Sea. Thankfully it turned out to be a relatively calm crossing, and as the ferry left at 5pm we had a few hours of sea watching before dusk set in. We were joined by a few other birders who assured us the Siberian Rubythroat found yesterday (3rd) was still present so we remained ever hopeful.
The first birds we saw from the ferry were Common Scoters. Then the birders then picked out some Skuas – first a mixture of Arctic and Pomerine and later a few Great Skuas. 3 lifers in quick succession for me! Numerous Gannets also flew past and a Manx Shearwater was picked out from them at one point which was great. Most of the other birds were Auks (Razorbills, Guillemots & 1 or 2 Little Auks) and Gulls. As the sun set we retreated inside for the night.
I apologise for the lack of posts despite saying I’d try to post daily. The mobiles reception is surprising good on Unst in parts of the island even for Three but there isn’t any 3G and we’ve only just got wifi in the lodge! They should be daily now, but I’ll be back tracking… Enjoy!