Sunday, September 19, 2010

!8.9.2010. Harbingers of winter?

Apologies for the lapse in postings, which period has been given over to computer changes and the like. Whilst I've been out and about, and had some good birds too, an "historical" piece probably serves little useful purpose at this stage. Suffice to say the storms last week provided some memorable sightings of the sea in full fury!.

After a seawatch in the morning, which had Arctic and Great Skua moving, plenty of Manx Shearwater , but still no Sooty Shearwater, I moved up the Rinns with the intention of giving full coverage to the area and gaining a "contextual feel" of what was happening after the storms as opposed to relying on unrelated observations. Suffice to say there are a lot of birds about and I never got to better part of Inner Loch Indaal!

In Outer Loch Indaal a tight group of 32 adult Kittiwakes huddled together with the occasional bird peeling off and flying out of the loch. A Great Northern Diver , in full summer plumage , was a magnificent sight followed, later, by an individual in winter plumage and an immature bird at a more intermediate stage. A few Red-throated Divers included a pair with a well grown youngster nearby, again in a state of transitional plumage. A few Common Scoter, Eider and auks completed the picture.

In waters north of Bruichladdich two Slavonian Grebe showed well, again in plumage which poses questions about their moulting stages. Lunch was accompanied by a mixed assemblage of waders ( Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Turnstone, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Curlew ) with several Red-breasted Mergansers in the waters beyond. A circuit to complete WeBS counts at Loch Gorm and nearby waters produced increasing numbers of Mallard, Teal and Tufted Duck and a single Little Grebe. Whilst often on the move , in excess of 800 Grey lag Geese were on Loch Gorm or on adjacent moorland.

En route to Gruinart a single Lapland Bunting was in a stubble field at Ballinaby with some notable groups of Linnet in that area too. Loch Gruinart was an absolute gift wrapped situation for any birder. Waders abounded, but not before a group of Pink-footed Geese had been seen with further Grey-lag Geese around as well. A lone Peregrine sat out on a knoll on the very edge of the saltmarsh, causing a nearby flock of 400 Starling to be restless. With the absolute bonanza of waders on offer few worries should have arisen and, in fact , the bird remained in situ for almost two hours! Where to start? Knot, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Ringed Plover, Sanderling, Curlew , Oystercatcher, Redshank, Bar-tailed Godwit and, finally, the American Golden Plover proved its presence still nearby to where it had been previously! An absorbing afternoon that was rapidly turning into evening!! Given a good accumulation of gulls ( mainly Common and Black-headed, but some Herring Gulls too ) a look through produced nothing special brought to us by the recent poor weather!

And finally, nearby to the house , a fine male "Greenland" Wheatear, still in resplendent plumage and one of the brightest birds I've seen in a while! A good day , but with a number of reminders we're not too far from winter.

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