Monday, 20 June 2011

White winger - No its not a gull.

I put out a plea on BirdForum mid last week and it was answered by Alan Whitehead AKA Duffbirder; see here. We agreed we would go on Saturday and then we checked the weather forecast and it wasn't so good! So we put it back to Sunday. So at about 5.45 on Sunday morning I rose and got ready for when Alan was coming to pick me up. It wasn't soon until we were in Northumberland and picking up another mate; Alan. Confused? You should be! So the 3 of us headed for the long journey north to Aberdeen. Thankfully the company was excellent and the journey seemed to go by really quick!

We arrived on site at Murcar Links Golf Course where the bird had been showing offshore. We were feeling quite relaxed having known the bird was seen this morning on our way up. The bird is undergoing a moult so we were fairly sure it wasn't going to go anywhere anytime soon. When we arrived out hearts sunk when we looked around and saw half the entire worlds population of Common Scoter offshore about 6.2 miles out. They might not have even been in British waters.Thankfuly there was a flock that was fairly close and we set on scanning those. We didn't draw a complete blank as we saw a cracking drake Surf Scoter but not the hoped for White-winged Scoter. The scoters moved a bit south and so did we. But as we arrived the birds were flushed by someone on a quad bike on the beach. Me and Northumberland Alan just laughed in disbelief and how the people of Aberdeen were almost set on making sure we didn't see the bird. Another 2 or so hours passed by and all we had to show for our efforts were at least 2 cracking drake Surf Scoters which were nice but no White-winged Scoter. Then it happened; by "it" I mean the event where someone shouted "I've got it!!!!!!".

Que the usual panics from the rest of us "Where?" and the usual replies "Back left of the flock" etc. I wished someone had said on the sea as I would have said "Here was me looking on the golf course!". On a serious note after the first guy had it he did give very good directions. Very soon after I said "Yeah......i've got it", every eye in the crowd looked at me and then back through their scopes. It soon disappeared out of my view, this was getting frustrating. We all remained calm and then after a short while I found it again and managed some brilliant if a little distant views of this cracking bird! Once you got your eye on it its surprising distinctive to ID and keep your eye on:
- Beware of the field guides which show a well defined marking under the eye as this is hard to see in this bird from some angles.
- The pinkish ring around the bill near the tip is obvious and makes the bird fairly easy to separate from Velvet Scoters present.
- The bird in good light is very dark chocolate brown like that of the colouration of female velvet scoter which it was associating with.

(White-winged Scoter - used by permission - © Matthew Deans)

We did have the bird flapping its wings but even at rest and when preening the white bar across the secondary featherers could be seen. Overall the bird is quite distinctive and sticks out quite nicely from the crowd once you've got your eye in. But I wouldn't know what it was if I had found it so well done to the finder for flagging it down! I would like to think I could pick a bird like this up if I saw one again in the UK while out birding if I ever get chance. What a super bird! Oh and I saw Guillemot which was a year tick.......I don't seawatch much away from Autumn!

Brilliant day, brilliant and educational bird, loving British birding as always. 2 more to official 300 BOU but this bird represents my 301st lifer in the UK.

Until next time, Foghorn out!

No comments:

Post a Comment