A grey sea, slight swell and light SW wind held promise, but produced little, so I moved on to complete a BTO WeBS count of Outer Loch Indaal given the favourable conditions. Strangely enough, other than a few auks, 12 Red-throated Divers and a handful of Great Northern Divers, it held virtually nothing, although the all dark heads and narrow chevron marking on the necks of the latter showed well, with no birds in winter plumage.
Further north the rather late Arctic Tern was still around, preening assiduously and possibly preparing to leave? A favourite isolated clump of trees/ bushes held a variety of common birds, where none can sometimes be present, which included ca.15 Blackbirds and a Goldcrest, which suggested they were migrants. A period of mist and rain didn't help with counts over various waters but provided a lunch stop! Duck numbers are now begining to be more in evidence with the first Goldeneye present. "The geese" are just thoroughly confusing!!!. A normal year would see an accumulation of Barnacle Geese, ( collective noun could be a " barking" ! ), and Greenland White-fronted Geese present for a period at the head of Loch Gruinart ( the RSPB reserve ). Whilst good numbers of birds are there, others have gone straight on to stubbles, or are on the salt marsh at the head of Loch Indaal. The Grey-lag Geese have usually shown some reduction by now, but substantial numbers appear to be enjoying the company, and competition (!) from the large numbers of Barnacle Geese sharing the spilt grain that, by now , will have produced nutritious shoots. Time will tell as, when this temporary feast is exhausted, it will be interesting to see the patterns that emerge thereafter.
In transit had some good, prolonged views of an immature female Merlin near to Coul and hunting Hen Harrier. Spent some time with Chris and Tony Johnson from Bolton, who are up here on holiday, before returning home. Having known them for over thirty years I was also reminded that they've been associated with the RSPB Bolton Members Group for around the same period!! They're stepping down next year for a well deserved rest after taking on , over the years, virtually every task a members group engages in. I would suspect it's some sort of " members group record" for a man and wife team to have completed and hope the RSPB has something in mind as an apt "thank you" for service!!