Great seawatching, and don’t forget the cetaceans
CHANONRY POINT IS one side of a narrow gap on the Moray Firth, facing Fort George on the south side. It is a celebrated location for watching Bottle-nosed Dolphins close to the shore, especially on an incoming tide, where they come to feed on Atlantic Salmon. Numbers vary but you can closely watch up to 20 animals feeding if you are lucky. Smaller numbers of Harbour Porpoise are possible, but the dolphins are likely to attack them. This is also a great place to watch bird movement on the firth, with potentially exceptional numbers of Little Auk if the wind blows them here. More than 150 in one day is a wonderful sight to see. Gulls feature high on the list with Sabine’s, Little Gull, Iceland and Glaucous found among the more common ones like Black-headed, Common, Herring, Great Blackbacked and, in summer, Lesser Black-backed Gulls. All four skuas have been seen – with 50 Great Skuas (one pictured above)making the list on one day. Both Manx and Sooty Shearwater have been seen, along with three species of divers, Leach’s and Storm Petrel and even Grey Phalarope. Sea ducks are always worth looking for, with local Eider, even a King Eider was seen here in 2010. Common Scoter and Long-tailed Duck can be found in winter, with Snow Bunting possible along the shore. Waders are always a good bet, with Oystercatcher, Curlew and Redshank joined by Sanderling, Turnstone and Dunlin, with odd records of Curlew and Pectoral Sandpiper. The golf course runs both sides of the road and is ideal for checking for pipits and wagtails, as well as Stonechat and even Sky Lark.