So it turns out that with an actual job you have very little time to go out and bird (except, of course, when you're leading a birding group - but that's very little fun in the hail). So now that I've found myself of island with a few free weekends, I've decided to get out as much as possible. During the week I make do with the feeders at work which provide me with siskin and brambling, and the faithful Kindrogan red squirrels and the promise of pine marten to tide me over until the weekend
|Brambling at the feeders|
Being off island has its plus points. Kindrogan is a fantastic base to launch lots of Scottish twitches, so when I check out RBA this morning and saw that the harlequin duck was still showing well in Aberdeen, I made up my mind to head out. Cramming a croissant in my face and downing my tea, I packed the car, suddenly eager to be off.
Two hours later I'm at Seaton Park in Aberdeen, pacing downstream from the toilet block to where the bird was last seen, tense as ever. Have I wasted my petrol? Then I see a birder crouched low on the river bank and, opposite him in the mid stream, a small black-ish duck. *insert sigh of relief*
The individual is a first winter male and has been showing well since January. With spring advancing, he's beginning to moult, and a rusty tinge is developing on his flanks. In flight he is neat and compact, with fast wing beats and a direct flight that remind me somewhat of black guillemot. When diving he stays down for around 30 seconds at a time, often surfacing at the same spot at which it dove. Generally it was calm and very confiding, panicking only once when disturbed by a passing roe dear.
|The first flushes of orange are beginning to show on his flanks|
|The breast feathers have almost a scaled appearance when viewed up close|
|Orange tinges clearly developing|
Back in the car I have a two hour drive to reflect on my first lifer of the year and consider heading out tomorrow for the Ross's goose that has been sighted in Tullibody...