Teal tale signs

Have given up counting how many times I’ve been to Loch of Tingwall trying to see the elusive Green-winged Teal in the past couple of weeks; it hasn’t quite got to the absurd double figure count it took last year to finally connect with the over-summering Killdeer, but it’s still not given itself up easily. Went out there yesterday yet again, and as usual saw absolutely everything else on or beside the water, but no Green-winged. All the usual suspects there – the single Coot, multiple Goldeneye, handful of Wigeon and Tufted Duck, double figures of Teal on the far shore… but not a hint of a Green-winged. I wasn’t surprised.

 This afternoon I gave it yet another shot on the way to catch the ferry home. Everything seemed to be going according to plan, with the added (but not unprecedented) twist of no Teal at all this time. Woe. One final scan, and hello… a Teal’s head was poking out of the grass some way along the shore. Little sneak dropped from sight the moment it sensed I’d seen it. Damn you and your teal sixth sense!

 Pegged it along the road, and got a little height towards Tingwall to look back down onto the shore with the scope. Disco! One mortified Green-winged Teal skulking at the water’s edge. Absolutely no other teal to be seen anywhere, bizarrely. Too distant and windswept to even attempt a photo, but now I’ve seen it there’ll be plenty of other opportunities for that. Jon’s Law #1 – longterm skulkers become easy just as soon as you finally clinch them.

On the subject of ducks – chatting to PVH this week about my borealis-type Eider – he says there are 2 or 3 similar candidates around Shetland this winter, and he at least is not dismissive of the general principle of borealis making it here. It seems one of the dead Eider washed up from the Braer was DNA tested, and proved good for borealis. So there. Wish I’d made an effort to get a record shot last weekend, and just know the bird won’t be lingering at my end of the island a week later. Can only hope to find it again in the main flock off the pier tomorrow. Or a King. (laughs hollowly).

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