Monday, March 21, 2011

Surf Scoter finally reeled in!

Our initial plans to spend a couple of days on the Firth of Forth had fallen through but were saved by Matthew's insistence that we should have a day out there from our base in Dumfries-shire. What you need to know is that this has been a species that has eluded me many times, despite targeted visits, and that I so much wanted to see. Over the years different birds have been involved, but the added attraction to this individual is that it is an adult male. Do I need to say more?

So we left in mist and rain, which gradually diminished and was replaced by much brighter, dry, but cold, weather, albeit it with perfect viewing conditions. We finally arrived at Lower Largo, Fife and had a preliminary look at what the Firth might offer whilst we had breakfast. A few Velvet Scoter and odd Slavonian Grebe offered a flavour to what lay beyond so we transferred around to Ruddon's Point. After a preliminary look a walk to the Point showed various groups of Velvet Scoter to be present and showing well. Shortly afterwards the single male Surf Scoter showed itself within one of the groups, an absolute dream of a bird. The white patches on the nape and forehead gleamed in the bright sunlight and the distinctively shaped bill and its colours showed to full effect. What a bird, and one worth waiting for, even to the extent of the various disappointing visits made in previous times!! { Matthew's reward is that (he says) I will now no longer grumble about my previous misfortune, but, in reality, its my thanks for his being willing to act as chauffeur. It could have been a very silent journey back had we not seen it!! }. We also had some great views of Long-tailed Duck, Slavonian Grebes and Velvet Scoters, a species that never fails to please! As we left the site a couple of Grey Partridge lifted from some rough grassland, a species met up with all too infrequently nowadays!

A quick journey around to the Eden Estuary provided views of the wintering Black-tailed Godwit flock, a couple of individuals of which showed almost full breeding plumage. As we viewed the estuary, overflying aircraft from nearby RAF Leuchars provided a fine display of formation flying. Little did we know at that point that a decision was being reached by various governments relating to Libya that might actually see such aircraft in combat in the near future. A sobering thought set against the enjoyment of our trip.

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