Sunday, February 11, 2007

Black and white ( with a bit of red )...

Yesterday the weather was diabolical with gale force easterly winds and sleet. The sea at Boulmer was pretty impressive, I hope when it quietens down there may be something good to find. Today, although the wind had dropped, the rain was heavy and forecast to be here for the day, so what better a time to leave the local patch and go twitching. May as well spend a few hours in the car as being soaked seeing nothing at home.

We packed the car with Bunty and headed off north. First stop was to Dunbar harbour where only a brief look failed to find the Caspian Gull, but we decided to press on as there were better targets to be sought.

As we approached the Forth road bridge the pager alerted us to the presence of our quarry on the south side of the estuary at South Queensferry. The female or immature Killer Whale was showing right under the road bridge. Present now for a couple of weeks, the pod of up to 9 animals had dwindled to this lone individual. It showed quite well but at a distance, as it surfaced regularly for air. It pushed forward creating a large bow wave with its forehead and floppy, curved dorsal fin above the surface, showing its white facial pattern. On deeper dives the back was more arched.
At one stage, while the Orca was submerged, we noticed a Grey Seal asleep, bottling, not too far away. When the whale resurfaced you've never seen a seal vanish as quickly!

On to our second stop at Alloa, near Sterling to look for a Red-breasted Goose. We couldn't find it or the accompanying 600 Pink footed Geese at Fallin so we luckily checked out an area north of the river. Two birders already had the goose staked out with the pinks, feeding in a tussocky grass field. I was relieved to put this one to bed as I have missed out on previous occasions.

A very small goose, it was difficult to see in the grass and was dwarfed by the other grey geese. On the odd occasion it lifted its head, its intricately marked face pattern could be seen and was strangely remeniscient of the Harlequin Ducks I've seen in Iceland. This was a very smart bird and well worth the trip. A lifer for me bringing my total up to 384 in Britain ( yes I know its not bad for a year list etc etc but I dont get out that often!)


chris foggo said...

you jammy bastard.

The Grocer said...

I remember seeing a male Wood Duck at Big Waters in 1988/89 and blurting out Red Breasted Goose, wishful thinking I think.

Boulmer Birder said...

Now now Chris, if you set off now you might be there by Saturday...:-)

Hello Grocer. I remember a drake Wood Duck in the early eighties on the river at Morpeth Baths. I think I'll tick it!