Sunday, 25 August – Burghead Pictish Fort, Duffus Castle, RSPB Troup Head, RSPB Loch of Strathbeg, Peterhead

This morning we drove down the coast towards RSPB Troup Head Reserve but go sidetracked by a sign Below the Visitor Centre, the lower headland has great coastal views with some nice birdwatching.

Whimbrel

Oystercatcher

Cormorants

Up the slope toward the Pictish Fort site:

Then we drove on down to Duffus Castle, because it was on the way to Troup Head.

While Ralph was inside the castle taking pictures, I walked around the outside, next to the moat.

After Duffus Castle we drove on to RSPB Troup Head:

We headed down the path marked in orange.

Ralph saw a bird land on the cliff. He is sure it was one of the small falcons: a kestrel, sparrowhawk, or merlin:

Along the way we saw butterflies:

A couple we met on the path said there were dolphins off the cliff. I took some shots with my lens zoomed to the max. While I got some splashes, this is the only picture that shows there were dolphins!

This map shows the real bird watching part of Troup Head:

While I got this shot of a gannet:

Ralph walked out to the real headland:

When Ralph returned to where I was waiting on a bench, he made a friend:

Then we cut across the field to return to the car park:

It was time to head to RSPB Loch of Strathbeg. To our surprise, they have ponies!

But there were plenty of birds, too. At first we didn’t see many:

The swans were obvious, but to their left at the edge, there was a curlew.

Above him was a large bird, maybe a buzzard or marsh harrier.

He flew off in the next picture:

But showed up later:

A bird in the middle foreground, badly out of focus in this picture, may have been a greenshank:

Here he is later, along with a lapwing and a number of other unidentified shore birds:

The black blob in the right lower corner turned out to be one of several lapwings, but here is a better picture of them:

The bird at the far right in the first bird picture was probably another curlew. Here is the best picture I got of him:

I really didn’t see him while taking the photos, he blended in so well. But that meant I never tried to focus directly on him, unfortunately.

As we were leaving there were starlings on the chimneys:

And many swallows resting on the wires above the visitor centre:

Another reserve visitor frightened them:

That night we traveled on to Peterhead and stayed at a Travelodge – basic, but clean.

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