Discussions last evening had determined that, with a lot of careful planning, we could still get up Cairngorm (on the Funicular I might add) and then depart for home. Despite all the great weather previously we hadn't reckoned on the forecast changing. From Aviemore it looked as if "the tops" were covered in cloud, but we decided to investigate and hope things might improve, so we set off regardless of the apparent conditions!
Our arrival coincided with hordes of skiers and snow boarders so bright colours, excitement, clunking great boots and all the necessary equipment was slowly moving its way towards the bottom of the slopes for upward transfer. It was hopeless our considering what we'd intended to do as the cloud was well and truly down and even distant telescope views of Ptarmigan were out of the question! Looks like a flog up Carn Ban Mor again ( a suggestion to which I didn't get a response incidentally !! ). As a small consolation Matthew had a flyover Snow Bunting, which I missed ( always guaranteed to raise the spirits of the occasion!). And so it was homeward bound with me taking the first spell.
We reached the general Musselburgh area in good time proving I can actually drive above 50 mph!! The hoped for Surf Scoter couldn't be located and was doubtless lurking with the other scoters we could see well out in the Forth. Nonetheless we saw Common and Velvet Scoter, Long-tailed Duck, Eider, Great Northern Diver, and a Black Guillemot previous to our deciding to move on.
With Senna-like focus we made Hauxley, Northumberland in record time. This was a surprise visit Matthew hadn't made mention of given the uncertainty of what might greet us. As we arrived we were treated to a close fly past of Pink-footed Geese and then, as we peered through the chain link fencing surrounding the previous Centre, which has burnt down, there they were!! Two rossicus Bean Geese in full view and most certainly a welcome surprise. Dragging ourselves away from what is a smashing reserve we moved on to the nearby Chevington, Druridge Bay area and had equally good views of the Red-necked Grebe which had only just turned up. What a brilliant end to the trip.
It was now time for the co-driver to take over for the final leg , which saw us arriving in Sheffield around 2000 hours. A tiring day but one to remember!