FORT GE­ORGE

His­toric site is a great spot to watch mi­grants from

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

FOL­LOW­ING THE 1746 de­feat at Cul­lo­den of Bon­nie Prince Charlie, Ge­orge II cre­ated the ul­ti­mate de­fence against fur­ther Ja­co­bite un­rest. The re­sult, Fort Ge­orge, is the might­i­est ar­tillery for­ti­fi­ca­tion in Bri­tain, if not Europe. It sits on the nar­rows of the Mo­ray Firth, with Chanonry Point on the op­po­site side (to the south-west) and a large tidal push be­tween the two. The fort is still used for train­ing but open to the pub­lic with shoot­ing ranges in the area. Many of the birds us­ing the firth pass through here on mi­gra­tion as well as mov­ing from feed­ing grounds, so it is a great place to catch up with pas­sage skuas in May, with 2013 be­ing a great year for es­pe­cially Long-tailed Skua pas­sage, while, in con­trast, Jan­uary 2016 was amaz­ing for Lit­tle Auks pass­ing through the firth. Sum­mer sees a good move­ment of terns with lo­cal breeding tak­ing place east of here, with Sand­wich, Com­mon and Arc­tic Terns likely. Osprey breed, es­pe­cially to the east of here, and are seen mov­ing around the firth. Waders can move through in num­bers, es­pe­cially head­ing for roosts at high tide, so look out for Oys­ter­catcher, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Bar-tailed God­wit, Turn­stone, Knot and Dun­lin. Au­tumn pas­sage has in­cluded both Yel­low-browed and Barred War­blers, but the win­ter ducks are well known from the firth, with Long-tailed Duck, Gold­en­eye, Com­mon and Vel­vet Scot­ers, Eider as well as a fly-by King Eider, and plenty of divers. The Mo­ray Firth Bot­tlenosed Dol­phins are of­ten seen and I have had amaz­ing views of por­poises and both seals.

Sand­wich Tern

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