A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Friday, 8 January 2016

Scotland day 2

(Here's the second instalment from my short break in Scotland in 2015. Day 1 was here)

Monday (1st June) we headed over to Ythan Estuary early where my initial check from Inch Point failed to locate the King Eider.  We headed up to the Forvie Sands car park and walked down the east side of the estuary - a walk I'd wanted to to for ages having not been down here since the early 90s when you used to be able to drive down (found an American Golden Plover there once).  A pleasant walk but I still couldn't find the King Eider.  Plenty of normal Eiders though...

Eiders, Ythan Estuary, 1st June

The southern tip was cordoned off to protect the terns and Eiders (rightly so) but you could see the huge tern colony from a distance - lots of Arctic Terns included.

Arctic Terns, Forvie Sands/Ythan Estuary, 1st June

Sandwich Tern, Ythan Estuary, 1st June

Next I headed round to the golf-course from where I hoped to see if there were any more Eider at the estuary mouth which weren't visible from elsewhere.  We met a couple who confirmed that the King Eider was not on view and I'd seen others looking from here too, so I wasn't too hopeful.  But there was another group of Eider on the opposite bank which hadn't been visible from the Forvie Sands path and there among them was a sleeping drake King Eider.

King Eider, Ythan Estuary, 1st June

It was a long time before I got to see its bill and much longer still before it became properly active, but eventually - just as I was giving up in fact - it did wake up and go for a wander and swim.  It never came any closer though, so none of the amazing photos that some people have managed.  At least I got some photos worth posting though - more than can be said for any of the other King Eiders I've seen before.

King Eider, Ythan Estuary, 1st June

Eiders, Ythan Estuary, 1st June

This Guillemot swam past, a Bridled example.

Giuillemot, Ythan Estuary, 1st June

Arctic Tern, Ythan Estuary, 1st June

Sandwich Terns, Ythan Estuary, 1st June

Not quite sure what the seals were as some looked like they had Grey Seal shaped heads in side profile but Common Seal shaped nostrils when front-on.  Think both species might have been there, perhaps with the Common Seals on the sandy shore opposite and Grey Seals on the rocks at the mouth of the estuary, and both swimming in the channel?  Or not.

Seals, Ythan Estuary, 1st June

Next stop was Blackdog where a Surf Scoter had been seen yesterday.  No sign, though among the many Guillemots offshore was a single Razorbill and a very brief Puffin.  Also a few Red-throated Divers. The exact location of the Surf Scoter was off the north end of Murcar golf-course just south of Blackdog, so not being able to see it from Blackdog I tried to see if I could get access to the golf-course.  Murcar golf-course is a site I'd not birded before but we soon put that right and found the scoter flock not too far offshore.  I found a drake Velvet Scoter before long and then got on to a female that looked more promising.  But I lost it before making 100% sure it wasn't a female Velvet.  Eventually I found it again and this time I got long enough views to see that it was indeed the female Surf Scoter.  Mind you I was grateful for the opportunity to see its wings when it went for a short flight, just to rule out any niggling doubts that might have lingered otherwise.

Rook, Murcar Golf-course, 1st June

Skylark, Murcar Golf-course, 1st June

(Move on to day 3)

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