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Monday, 4 July 2016

The Big Twitch, a day of mixed fortunes

Out with Mark and our mates Darren from Leeds and Dave from Rochdale on Sunday for a big twitch up to Murcar Golf Course near Blackdog Aberdeen for an “American” White-winged Scoter that had turned up over a week ago, an overnight drive found us on site at first light with the daunting task of searching through the massive numbers of Eider and Scoter on the sea, it actually didn’t take long to pick out what turned out to be a fairly distinctive bird mainly by the big white wing patches although when it came a little closer a couple of times the other features like the more pinkish bill with the small bump on the culmen, the larger eye patch and browner flanks could also be seen, it mainly kept company with a few Velvets but as to be expected it was hardly what you could call photogenic, but you know me I just had take some record shots. An excellent start to the day, the main target and new bird for all of us in the bag nice and early plus had shown better than expected (a nice calm sea helped) unfortunately the rest of the day didn’t quite go as hoped, we headed a bit further north first to the Ythan Estuary to look for the drake King Eider which would have been a nice bonus but there was no sign of it nor of the recent American Wigeon, a couple of Arctic Terns showed well as they fed close by though, we headed back and had a look from Blackdog itself where a King Eider had been reported yesterday, lots of Eider on the beach but distant and a couple of scans revealed nothing more than common. We carried on south cutting across country at Forfar to the Loch of Lowes near Dunkeld as me and Mark still needed Osprey for the year, the female was sitting on the nest but there was little action so we soon moved on. We had decided to head back to Northumberland and try for the long staying Bonaparte’s Gull on the Wansbeck Estuary but paid a quick visit to Musselburgh on the way, it was quite windy here making for a rough sea and we failed to locate the Surf Scoter this time but a big flock of female/imm Red Breasted Mergansers made an interesting sight. We got to the Wansbeck Estuary late afternoon, the tide was in and there were hardly any Gulls around at all, we had a little look around to no avail, failed again, it may have been on the nearby Castle Island but by this stage we’d had enough and decided to call it a day.
distant American White-winged Scoter

with a little imagination you can make out the pinkish bill and brown flanks

Velvets in flight
lots of Yellowhammers around

Arctic Tern at the Ythan Estuary

Eiders at Musselburgh, no two look the same

part of the large flock of Red Breasted Mergansers

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