With 40mph winds around Strathbeg at the start of this morning, it perhaps didn't seem like the best time to head out to a cliff top reserve! However I had a bit of work to do at Fowlsheugh and it seemed an ideal time to give Suzanne a look round the reserve. Thankfully, the winds dropped as we headed south and by the time we arrived, the sun had come out and the reserve was looking superb, and we decided it was safe enough to head out to the shelter. As Vicky said in her previous blog, it's a much quieter (and less smelly!) walk now that the seabirds have left for the winter, but there were still plenty of cormorant, eider and various gulls off shore and robin, meadow pipit and calling stonechat in the gorse and grassland around the path. And on a very windy and slightly chilly day like today, you really appreciate the warmth of the new shelter.
One bird that really is a highlight of Fowlsheugh at this time of year is the peregrine. We've seen them in the summer harrassing seabirds, now they've moved on to chasing the wintering feral pigeons that roost on the cliff. This bird in particular gave us some phenomenal views from the shelter as it twisted and hung in the wind.
On the way back we made our traditional stop at Girdle Ness in Aberdeen. Just from the car park we saw oystercatcher, redshank and purple sandpiper on the breakwater, eider, cormorant, a diver sp. and two juvenile razorbills at sea and the day finished with at least six large bottle-nose dolphin just in the mouth of the river, with three of them briefly bow-riding a cargo ship as it headed into the harbour. A nice reminder that even if you can't make it out to reserves like Fowlsheugh, there's still an amazing amount of wildlife to see even in the middle of a city!