The approach to Strathconon via Loch Achilty brought some brief sightings from the cars which not everybody saw; Jay, Red Kite sitting on a tree, Little Grebe diving near the loch shore and Goosander on a small island, but numerous Fieldfares in the roadside fields plus less obvious numbers of Redwing and Mistle Thrush were visible to all. On the drive up Strathconon past the village hall, a pair of raptors flying out of the sun raised a frisson of anticipation, but they turned out to be Buzzards. So the party settled to a tranquil lunch at the prime site at a junction of glens, scanning and peering all the while into the far horizons and over the nearby peaks, all well-lit in the late-winter sunlight. The atmosphere was reminiscent of some bygone Antonioni film as the odd Raven was spotted and an unidentified Falcon followed a Buzzard across the glen, but the combined efforts of 30 eyes failed to find a single Eagle.
Eventually it was agreed to proceed to the head of the glen, in the hope of better luck. An almost expected pair of Whooper Swans in the loch before Scardroy drifted in and out of invisibility as they merged into the sun-dappled ripples whipped up by the strengthening wind. The party was now on foot heading for the lodge and the member who had a pressing engagement elsewhere was within 20 seconds of departure when a pair of Ravens at last obliged by chasing a Golden Eagle, with much squawking, over our heads and across the glen. Soon after, a noisy party of 5-9 Common Crossbills flitted in the treetops by the lodge, stopping long enough for both sexes to be clearly seen. Now that the duck had been broken Golden Eagles appeared at will. One was seen while driving down the glen and a further pause at the lunch venue was rewarded by long and languid viewing of three birds as they approached from the clouds away back in the side glen and soared and wheeled around and eventually behind the roadside peaks. A contented drive homeward down the glen ended a day in which a total of 45 species noted was considered not bad for inland birdwatching at this time of year..