Wednesday, January 7, 2009

6th January,2009.

At commencement,and for most of the day, things were fairly routine until, going through part of the wintering Greater Scaup flock at the head of Loch Indaal, I found a Canvasback!!!! The head shape and bill contours make this bird unmistakeable (other than eliminating Aythya hybrids!)and although it was a 1st W male/female it was an absolute joy in the initial period following discovery until the flock went elsewhere.They returned after about two hours which allowed me to contact Andy Schofield to ensure some confirmation was secured.

Thankfully,both he and Louise Gregory managed to get there whilst viewing conditions were fairly reasonable, but deteriorating, and to get views of the bird which, at times, was difficult. It had a knack of merging successfully within the flock and choppy conditions didn't help either. Shortly afterwards James How and Michal Sur arrived, who were driving past and noticed the commotion!! Thankfully everyone got views of the bird and were agreed as to its identity although we all felt better light would have helped age/sex it more easily. By this time immature males should begin to show more characteristics of adult males, than being similar to a female. Whilst it does have a chestnut "cast" to its head and a slightly darker back I'm persuaded into thinking that the bird is an adult female given their plumage and colouration can vary.

Now, Canvasbacks apart, all this raises some interesting questions!!! Canvasbacks breed in NW North America and winter in SE America, very often consorting with
Greater Scaup. It must be presumed they both travelled here together, which rather demolishes the presumption that I believe many of us shared that "our" Greater Scaup come from Iceland, along with "our" Slavonian Grebes!!! I doubt we'll ever know the truth but it again raises queries about birdlife for which we have no solid answers , even in these modern times.

So the evening was spent looking at pictures of Canvasbacks, predominantly males I have to say ( sorry ladies) that are a bit special in full breeding plumage, all of which didn't help of course!!!

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