There’s a great va­ri­ety of win­ter wild­fowl at this in­land site

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

TOP TIP Check the burn to the right of the hide – Wil­low Tits feed here

CAS­TLE LOCH IS a great place for birds all year, with large num­bers of Pink-footed Geese ar­riv­ing in Septem­ber and leav­ing in April. Other geese are drawn to the area, with both Tun­dra Bean and Euro­pean White-fronted Geese here in the 2011-12 win­ter and with reg­u­lar Grey­lag and Canada Geese us­ing the area. A large flock of Wi­geon win­ter here, with the oc­ca­sional Amer­i­can Wi­geon tucked into the feed­ing birds, while div­ing ducks in­clude large num­bers of Tufted with Gold­en­eye and Goosanders. Pochard have dropped in num­bers, with many now staying in Europe rather than tak­ing the flight across the North Sea. Other div­ing ducks pos­si­ble in­clude the oc­ca­sional Scaup and Lesser Scaup, Red-crested Pochard and Long-tailed Duck. The loch is a great place to find a Smew and has had all five species of grebes, with a Pied-billed found in 1987 and Amer­i­can Coot in 2004. Divers can also drop in and win­ter sees Bittern in the loch edge reedbeds. Sum­mer sees good num­bers of breed­ing war­blers, with

Reed War­bler reach­ing its north­ern limit. Low wa­ter lev­els can see pas­sage waders with Wood, Green and Com­mon Sand­piper, Black-tailed God­wit, Whim­brel, Spot­ted Red­shank and Green­shank all drop­ping in, but the bird many peo­ple come for is the Wil­low Tit. Feed­ers are in the first car park.

Wil­low Tit

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