A small but enthusiastic group met up with Peter at about 10:45 by Burghead harbour in pleasant weather with a promise of spring.
Highlights at the harbour were a line of about 30 turnstones on the wall together with a cluster of redshanks. Several cormorants and a shag were perched on various structures, and a mixed group of male, female and young eider floated offshore. Other sightings were of rock pipits, robin, pied wagtail, sparrow, goldfinch and common and black backed gulls.
A stroll along the cliffs gave us linnets and yellowhammers on the gorse, whilst at sea were guillemots, razorbill, a pair of mergansers, goldeneye, gannets and 3 common scoters.
Later we had good views of bar-tailed godwit, curlew, a large raft of herring gull, a lone fulmar and a welcome skylark. Turning back towards the harbour a pair of stonechats in bright plumage kept us entertained as they explored the rocky shore.
After lunch we drove on to Lossiemouth which had its usual high numbers of gulls, waders, teal and wigeon. Despite the disturbance caused by an enthusiastic dog which was by turn both entertaining and exasperating, redshank, curlew, 2 knots, oystercatchers and a handsome heron were spotted.
THEN CONTROVERSY! Amongst large numbers of black headed , lesser black backed and herring gulls was a single Iceland gull and a gull with yellow legs, otherwise similar to the herring gulls. A long period of observation and recourse to the book convinced some of us that it was indeed a yellow-legged gull, not just a herring gull with yellow legs.
Abandoning the debate, without final conclusion, we continued to Loch Spynie. Here the heronry was active, and amongst the woodland were great and long-tailed tits, goldfinch, wren, chaffinch and woodpigeon. The loch itself yielded scaup, tufted duck, little grebe, coot, moorhen, mute swan, and mallards, with reed bunting on the margin.
The day ended on a high note, returning to the car park, with the water rail heard, and a wood cock shooting across the path. Many thanks to Peter for a thoroughly enjoyable day.