Sunday, 13 May 2012

Wknd 14-15 May

During the week had checked again for the drake Surf Scoter which routinely appears on our coast in early May (having failed to see it last weekend, but then reported from Ferny Ness on Tuesday), found it again on same spot on the sea on 9 May as it had frequented back in 2010 (10-15 May), NNE from Wrecked Craigs. Curiously that year what was presumed to be the same then moved on to Musselburgh on 15 May, where a drake has appeared every year since 1997 (except 1998), but was reported again at Port Seton the same day, but there were then 2 drakes at Musselburgh 17-18 May - the obvious conclusion being the first report at Musselburgh was a new bird later joined by ours from Seton! Then as now the intricacies of the self-found listing rules mean I still need this species for my British list, but it would feel a bit of a cheat, we can almost set our calendars by it. Nevertheless, did look for it last year and failed to see it, and have checked a couple of times since and not seen it again. On Saturday there was a similar group of Velvets in a similar area - one of which was apparently a female with an abnormally large white patch at base of bill, but surely a Velvet, perhaps imm f. As usual, vast majority of birds very distant and hard to check details - and photos of Surfie, at estimated range well over 1km, little more than a speck, hence none for this post!

On longevity, if we assume it is the same bird and was an adult in summer of 1997, its hatch year was 1995 or earlier, making it a minimum of 17 years old - no wonder it's set in its ways!!! Can't find a confirmed age beyond 10 yrs in quick web search, though Velvet has reached 21 yrs.

Not a great deal else apparent on Saturday, a steady hirundine passage in better weather and for first time since last summer could not spot a Long-tailed Duck. 20 odd Common Seals were out on Craigielaw Point, their favoured spot, and 103 Barwits remained on Gosford Sands.

Some proper wind and rain the previous on Thursday set up a nice little seawatch but apart from impressive shearing by a few Fulmars and terns battling the wind nothing exciting was seen. Wind returned again on Sunday, a decent SW6 gusting over the Forth - scanning the same patch of sea off Seton hirundine passage at a total standstill but a single Swift went throo, well offshore battling over the sea - in photo above it is the speck in front of bow of distant tanker. "Counts". At 15:30hrs 3 scoter sp flew in from NE, one certainly gave impression of the Surfie but they came down on sea a good mile+ offshore and due to sea condition (see photo) only got glimpses thereafter. But per birdinglothian the Surfie was there both morning and afternoon, someone with better eyes/optics than mine! More positively a Common Sand on the Seton Burn was my belated first of the year.

Looked for Surfie on way home on Monday and this time was there on same small patch of sea, c. 3km offshore just east of N off Wrecked Craigs; fortunately the light was briefly good after a shower so easy to spot. With 12 Velvet Scoter, a few others scattered around. Also one Smartie W past.

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