Saturday, January 10, 2009

9th January, 2009.

Whilst still out of things with flu the day, somewhat perversely, proved to be a good one!!

Firstly, backtracking a little! On the 6th, when I first came across the putative Canvasback, there was also another duck in the flock that was extremely elusive but, nonetheless, seen briefly on a few occasions. Andy Schofield also managed to see it a couple of times later and both of us were convinced it was a female Lesser Scaup!!!
Mainly due to tidal conditions the duration over which we studied it was relatively short and we never had it in flight. Then, of course, we ran out of daylight.

I mentioned it to Malcolm Ogilvie who expressed a reservation about it being in a marine rather than a freshwater situation. Later I unearthed a reference sugesting they can winter in sheltered bays along with Greater Scaup, which intrigued me further. By then Jim Dixon had said he would come across from the mainland and try and get photographs of the Canvasback, so I suggested he might keep an eye open for it on his visit as, whilst we were convinced of its identification, we needed better views of it to be entirely satisfied.

Imagine my delight when JD not only reported he had come across the bird but had photographs of it too!!! It was on Loch Skerrols, which is near to the head of Loch Indaal and entertains a succession of Greater Scaup parties in differing numbers. Presumably the bird had become "caught up" in one of these exchanges?

Two mega species in one flock.....what good fortune and certainly worth the five hour vigil on the 6th!! Sadly though the Canvasback wasn't even seen!! It's now critical that we get a photograph of it, and not just of the bird but of the bill, as this should be completely black with no other colouration, however slight, suggesting hybridisation along the line. Regrettably that's unlikely to happen over the next few days when we've some real filthy weather in store!!

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