Hooded Merganser at Kilbirnie Loch, Ayrshire, Scotland. 20/11/2016

Posted: November 21, 2016 in Birding, Twitching
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The controversy surrounding most unusual wildfowl arriving on our shores has always mystified me, the usual questions, “is it wild, does it come to bread, has it got a ring, has it escaped from a wildfowl collection?” All may have a bearing on a bird’s ability to get it self-accepted by the rarity committee. The fact remains that if they all satisfy the identification criteria then, without being able to communicate with these creatures apart, we will never really know where they have come from!

Many years ago we headed up to RSPB Lochwinnoch, just north of Kilbirnie Loch and after an unsuccessful attempt, connected with an American Black Duck, which was accepted by the rarity committee. So when a male Hooded Merganser arrived at RSPB Lochwinnoch last week we began to make plans to visit the bird. The bird then moved onto Kilbirnie Loch and we decided to head north on Sunday. I met the lads from York in Milnrow, Mark K, Mark L & Ellis L at 7am and away we went in my car. The drive over the Lune Valley, Shap, Lockerbie and Beatock was made rather spectacular because of the amount of snow that had fallen in the last week, great scenery. Well Glasgow was reached and a really major amount of roadworks were being carried out, without too much effect on our progress. We passed three major football grounds close to the motorway namely, Hampden Park, Celtic Park and Ibrox.

We reached Kilbirnie Loch around 10-45am and the bird was found on the far side of the water and did not give any real chance to the waiting cameras. Mark commented that we were all a little bit underwhelmed with the bird, but nevertheless a cracking bird seen well in the telescope as it dived for small fish. Not many other birds were present here so after a while we moved up to Lochwinnoch. This reserve has been transformed since my last visit and was really nice. With time pressing on we headed south hoping to reach Brampton near Carlisle to connect with a group of Waxwings in the area.

Reaching the sleepy town of Brampton around 2-20pm, we soon located a flock of around 40 Waxwing`s. The birds must have been feeding all day and were getting into “roost mode” as they kept their distance, before flying away around 3pm. The weather had been a little gloomy all day up to now, but as we headed south over Shap the sunset lit up the spectacular scenery once more.

Dave O.


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