Sunday, February 27, 2011

Concentrated birding bliss!

A rather belated post for Friday! Managed to weave in a visit to Loch Gruinart where the outer loch was still inundated, but ensured many waders like Curlew, Bar-tailed Godwit and Oystercatcher were concentrated in roosting groups. On the RSPB's reserve pools an absolute plethora of birds was present! Wildfowl species like Mallard, Teal, Shoveler, Wigeon, Gadwall, Pintail, Shelduck and Red-breasted Merganser were all on display together with Mute and Whooper Swans together with nearby Greenland White-fronted and Barnacle Geese. A passing female Hen Harrier caused utter dis-array and concentrated the duck in a gyrating group pulsing with awareness and anxiety. Above this, the penetrating calls of Teal echoed around the whole site until the raptor finally passed through. The episode allowed me to scrutinize, unsuccessfully, the assembled Teal to see if any Green-winged Teal was present as early spring is a time when such species often appear here on Islay.

In addition to the duck the exposed islands were a chaos of feeding activity by many waders, primarily Redshank, whose vividly coloured legs showed up against the drab background of the island's surface against which the body colouration of the birds bodies merged quite dramatically. This gave rise to a series of strange interwoven images of coloured strands moving around against a dark backcloth!!! All too soon it was time to move on, the interval being marked by the strident calls of two Greenshank as they moved across the site. Brilliant!

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