19th January 2014 – AMERICAN COOT in Highland…

Britain’s 7th American Coot was discovered on the 5th January on Loch Flemington (between Inverness and Nairn), and for some reason ever since I’ve been really keen to make the long journey north to see it. Maybe it’s because I dipped the Walney bird in 1999, and then dipped the Lochmaben bird in 2004. So would this be 3rd time lucky?

After a long shift finishing at midnight I met up with Col and we journeyed north through the night, arriving at the Loch just after 5am. We just about managed to get a couple of hours kip but to be honest we just wanted it to get light! We began peering out of the car windows in near pitch black, trying to see if it was still present. Even in the near dark we could make out several Moorhens and one Coot sp., and then the Coot sp. turned to show those striking white sides to the undertail-coverts. Get in! It was still there. We were the only ones there and as it slowly began to get light we were treated to exceptional views of the bird. By being quiet and staying inside the car it seemed to be totally unaware of our presence. Occasionally it would even get out of the water and come up onto the grass, only yards away from the car – we certainly weren’t expecting it to be as confiding as this!…









What a fabulous bird and a superb way to begin the day. After spending a couple of hours watching it we then headed towards the south shore of the Moray Firth for some more birding. Between Ardersier and Nairn we came across literally thousands of gulls by a pig farm, and quite quickly we had an Iceland Gull in our bins…




Despite the weather being extremely gloomy, cold, wet and windy, we were determined to enjoy the rest of the day and spent some time birding at Nairn. There was plenty to watch here but the undoubted highlight for me were the Long-tailed Ducks, what superb birds they are, my photo really doesn’t do them justice at all…


Plenty of other bits n bobs too…






Look at that bloody sky! It was supposed to be sunny from mid-morning. Muppets.

Look at that bloody sky! It was supposed to be sunny from mid-morning. Muppets.

Feeling pretty tired from our overnight drive, and with the weather deteriorating further, we decided to head for home. The American Coot had definitely exceeded our expectations and it had certainly been well worth the long drive north.

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2 Responses to 19th January 2014 – AMERICAN COOT in Highland…

  1. Carl Baggott says:

    Another great day there Darren. I hope the American Coot stays until I go up for my annual February bash in the Cairngorms. I saw the Stodmarsh one years ago now, but it would be good to see another.

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