A morning spent "fiddling about" with computer programmes ( and to little avail if I'm honest!) in an attempt to improve the record shots of the Ring-necked Duck, but distance frustrated the whole process, even with enhancement. Hopefully the bird will come closer at some point,as did the magnificent drake occurring at Loch Kinnabus on the Oa a couple or so years ago. At least a sufficient shot finally emerged to support the record claim!!
After a slightly grey start the day again developed into another nice sunny one , with the mid afternoon temperatures being quite warm. Another female Merlin on the southern Rinns flew northwards along the coast convincing me again that these birds are possibly Icelandic migrants. The BTO " Atlas of Wintering Birds" (1996) shows a presence on the Uists, less so on Lewis, but these might also be Icelandic birds in part!! At some point it would be useful to check into the winter situation relating to the breeding population of the Outer Hebrides, based on any returns of ringed birds, and whether they are thought to move out completely. At RSPB Gruinart Reserve the lone male Gadwall has now been joined by a further pair and the first Black tailed Godwit flew over. Tremendous views were had of the Lesser Canada Goose feeding amongst the Barnacle Geese on the Flats, which allowed me to get some good notes together on diagnostic features. A small flock of Sand Martin buzzed around the pools where Shoveler numbers appear to be holding up but from which the Pintail presence appears to have reduced.
I have to admit to having omitted two reports,and of the same species too, over the last few days. On the 11th a single Whimbrel fed in fields neat Portnahaven and, on the 13th, a lone bird flew NNE over the Rinns. The precursors to what will no doubt be the noticeable passage of good numbers of birds quite soon.