FRIDAY 14 MAY
BRACO MOOR (PERTH & KINROSS)
Braco Moor is one of my favourite locations in the lowlands of Scotland and always supports an excellent selection of moorland breeding species. Driving west along the B827 with the temperature hovering around 6 degrees C, 3 male Willow Warblers were singing from the pinewoods, a pair of Red-legged Partridges were by the roadside and the air was filled with the sound of displaying Meadow Pipits and Eurasian Curlews. Approaching Glenlichorn Farm, both Skylark and Linnet were noted, and then the first of 5 singing male WHINCHATS, between Longside Farm and the next 600 yards of road. These birds were just gorgeous and in fresh breeding attire. A single Northern Wheatear was also noted and the first of many displaying Lapwing.
Braco Moor: in recent years, the section of B827 beyond Langside Farm has been the most productive and this year was no exception. After glancing at a roadside Common Buzzard and a Goldfinch, the first male BLACK GROUSE came in to view – both strutting in the grass about 150 yards away from the south side of the road. These two birds provided fabulous views and as we drove further along, we located a further male.
Meanwhile, 50 or more Common Gulls had returned to the breeding colony on the moor, and a Common Snipe was noted. Three RED GROUSE were soon tracked down, as well as another speciality of the area – the SHORT-EARED OWL. This latter bird perched on a fencepost – and as we drove back towards Braco, our first COMMON CUCKOO of the trip was encountered.
Continuing north from Braco, we took the Muthill road and then the A822 into the Sma’Glen. The scenery here is simply stunning and just north of Newton we discovered a brand new Black-headed Gull colony. At the Newton bridge we also recorded LESSER REDPOLL, whilst 3 Willow Warblers were in full song from the riverside Birch trees. At Corrymuckloch, we recorded 5 cock BLACK GROUSE lekking in a newly planted conifer plantation, followed by a further two younger males, a cracking male RED GROUSE at the roadside and another WHINCHAT. A flock of 6 Atlantic Canada Geese too.
We then drove along GLEN QUAICH from Amulree, another great site for BLACK GROUSE. Looking back towards the hills on the left just beyond the burn and plantations, a further 9 male BLACK GROUSE were located (excellent views obtained), along with good numbers of Lapwing and Curlew, a few Common Redshanks and several Northern Wheatears. The bubbling sounds that the lekking grouse make is just so absorbing and melancholic and the deep blue in their plumage so intense.
In Amulree village, the House Martins were nesting under the eaves of the Lonely Inn Gallery; House Sparrows were also fairly common here.
Just east of Amulree, another lek of 5 male BLACK GROUSE was located in the River B’aan valley, close to ‘Glenfender’ cottage, between Amulree and Milton, with a male RED GROUSE and the first of many Roe Deer in Glen Cochill.
By mid-morning, a total of 24 BLACK GROUSE had been seen – about average for the April and May trips to the region.
After exploring Glen Cochill, we continued on to Pitlochry, where a pair of GOOSANDER were seen on the river.
Rather off schedule, we failed to visit Loch of the Lowes reserve for the first time in perhaps ten tours.