Ian says ……… Today Pauline and David went to check out a loch for Slavonian Grebes while I went with Dave P. and Neil to look for the Ptarmigan on Cairngorm as David, Dave and Neil dipped out on them the other day round at Glen Shee. First we waited for the Snow Buntings thinking it wouldn’t take long for them to arrive but 45 minutes after putting seed on the stone wall there was no sign of them – up until now it had been a matter of minutes before they had shown. We wanted to find Ptarmigan today so with a long walk up Coire an t Sneachda ahead of us we decided to try for the Buntings later. It was about an hours walk through deep snow and over ice fields before there was a suspicion of anything. Neil's poorly knee began to give him trouble so he turned back. Dave had taken the eastern side of the glen while I decided to take the western side – simply so I could scan the area with the light behind me as the sun was very bright as it reflected off the snow and ice at this stage. I could see a photographer over on Daves side but couldn’t see what his lens was aimed at. I phoned Dave to alert him so that he could head around and up towards whatever was up there ! It would have taken me 30 minutes or so to cross over so I continued up to a very rocky area where there would be a chance of finding the target species for the day. Half an hour later I found a single Ptarmigan and started to take a few pics before a blizzard swept down and past me before I knew what was happening. The snow continued down the glen not touching Dave – in fact Dave was in sunlight for most of the time while I had snow and grey skies. Enough shots and I let Dave know that I was going to head down and as he had also got Ptarmigan he also set off down. I caught him up near the car park and we still had a bit of time for the Buntings. Neil had been concentrating on them but they had not been confiding all afternoon so after a few shots at a single bird we called it a day.
Pauline say's ... Despite the loch being mostly unfrozen the only grebe to give our hearts a flutter was a Little Grebe ... we tried for all of two seconds to make it into a slav and then admitted defeat - dipped out again! A rethink was had and as we were footloose and fancy free of the others for the day, we decided to head to the Black Isle and a 1.30pm rendezvous with some Red Kites at a place called Tollie. There was not a soul when we arrived, and we were not confident that anyone would arrive - esp not the kites! But the stated feeding time was 1.30pm so we got our butties and brew and settled to wait .... There were crows hanging around - always a good sign - then suddenly two kites came in low over the trees right towards us - you've never seen butties thrown down so fast =in exchange for cameras! The lady warden turned up with a bucket of meat offcuts and offal and went into the RSPB centre. I actually missed the feeding action by going to the loo - something I could put off no longer - but I should have checked the time first - another few mins with crossed legs wouldn;t have hurt! Fortunately for me the kite action here in common with Gigrin does continue after the first flurry. The kites grab stuff and go to the trees with it and a lot of folk think thats it and leave but after a little postprandial rest they are soon back and a lot more flight and calling goes on before they pick up courage to swoop down and take a little more!