Success & Failure. 3/7/2016

Posted: July 6, 2016 in Twitching
Tags: , , , , ,

The arrival of post breeding birds back into the country is always an exciting time for us birders, so when an American White Winged Scoter was seen in Aberdeenshire it was time to gather the troops. With my friends from over the border in Yorkshire being “up for it” and no real response from the regular A Teamers a trip was arranged for Saturday night. We met in York and with Darren W, Nigel S and organiser in chief Mark K set off north. With the A1 being subject to-night closures a trip up the A19 was planned then across country to Edinburgh. We passed over the Forth Bridge and marvelled at the new bridge being built along side the old one. We pressed on through Aberdeen and soon found our way to the Blackdog area, then apart from a couple of wrong turnings (yes I know blame me) we headed down to the golf clubhouse at Murcar. It was just 4-30am as we all donned our waterproof`s, gloves and wooly hats (well it is July) and headed out to the dunes overlooking the sea. The four of us found what has been the regular watching area, which is raised with a good view over the sea. The weather and conditions were perfect, flat calm sea, next to no wind and overcast skies. We all began to search through the 500 or so scoter flock and all noticed a bird with very large white patches on both wings, this must be our American White Winged Scoter?  The bird was given a good-looking at and we saw:that its bill was pinkish towards the last third, it had brown flanks, it had white facial patches around and behind its eyes, the white wings showed at rest and were much more obvious as the bird dived or preened. It tended to always be in the company of Velvet Scoters against which it appeared slightly larger. We enjoyed the bird for over an hour and also saw:- Eider, Red Throated Divers (are you sure Mark) and lots of passing terns. We had all got a new British species, it was well worth the effort.

We went up to the Ythan Estuary (Newburgh) to see the breeding plumaged King Eider, but guess what? it could not be found. The seals made up for it though and lots of terns, 200+ what a cracking estuary this is, so undisturbed. We tried to locate the American Wigeon also, but without any joy. At Blackdog another search through the massive Eider flock was fruitless.

Setting off south to Loch of Lowes, near Dunkeld at around 9am, we called in for petrol in Aberdeen. What fun that was, we could not find a petrol station, until one finally gave itself up! The drive over the A & B roads was a little unusual to say the least but, we made it. We made our way to the main hide/center and found out it was £4-00 each to get in, what happened next?? (answers on a postcard) We sought out another viewing opportunity and after all agreeing that a stain on a distant tree was an Osprey, Nigel S got his scope and found the real Osprey, well we were tired.

A call into Musselburgh, near Edinburgh, along the sea wall did not reveal the hoped for Surf Scoter, but an unusual amount off moulting Red Breasted Merganser`s were watched with still more Eiders in various stages of moult.

Of we went again down the A1 on a beautiful day enjoying this picturesque road on a fairly quiet day for traffic. We were heading for the River Wansbeck (of Red Necked Stint fame) to try to catch up with a Bonaparte`s Gull. We got to Ashington and had to pass through a caravan site and walk down to the beach and estuary.We had a good look for the bird but could not find it. We decided to head for home after a very long day`s birding. We had all seen a new bird for Britain but had been unlucky with the supporting cast. We headed for home, which I reached at 8-00pm. What a brilliant day out with great company.
Dave O.

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