18th June 2011
John T picked me up just after eight for a little jaunt to Aberdeen yesterday. We picked up Gary from Kingsbury and Kris from Barnsley on route. Navigation in Barnsley proved challenging but we eventually headed in a northerly direction with our full compliment. The journey after that was uneventful and we arrived at the Murcar Golf club at about 5.30 am. There were maybe 20 birders on site already but no one had pinned down 'the bird' although there was plenty of speculation and 'have a look at this one'. It was an amazing sight, several hundred birds bobbing about on the sea mainly Common Scoter and Eider with good numbers of Velvet Scoter mixed in. The scale of the task of identifying a single American White winged Scoter amongst the ever changing flock was daunting although the main flock was a lot closer in than I'd imagined. Also the viewing conditions were good with no glaring sun to contend with. In my first sweep I picked out a Surf Scoter, a relatively easy achievement. It was great getting your eye in picking out Velvet Scoters and other and other species in the flock. After 20 minutes or so the guy just in front of me picked out a candidate for the AWWS, as more people got on the bird interest increased. Trouble was though, getting on tho the bird was easier said than done with Scoters constantly diving or disappearing in the swell. You needed a stroke of luck and mine was provided by a slow moving Red throated Diver which served as a focal point from which to navigate to the Scoter. Many thanks to the chap just in front of me for his help and knowledge. I think most people standing near the fourth Tee got on the bird before the rains came although there were certainly others that didn't. We made our way back across the Golf course to the car. Despite our best efforts one of the team hadn't managed to see the White winged Scoter, which was a shame after travelling such a long way but it didnt seem to bother him too much.
We moved on to the Ythan estuary with the rain now belting it down. Another Golf course another rare duck. Despite the rain the drake King Eider showed well, at least everyone saw that one. It had been a good morning, as well as the Scoters we'd seen Arctic Skuas, a variety of Terns and several Red throated Divers.With negative news on the Greater Sandplover thoughts turned to breakfast and the long journey home.