Great sea­watch­ing, and don’t for­get the cetaceans

Bird Watching (UK) - - Go Birding - JOHN MILES

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.

Long-tailed Duck


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