Lesser Scaup joy (and more besides)

After being teased all day by JLI’s texts of migrant goodies at home, there was only one thing I could possibly do after work. Hurry home and catch up on what I was missing? Obviously not. I had a score to settle with the Loch of Benston Lesser Scaup.

The wretched thing was still on the far side of the loch, so it was a case of some good old-fashioned fieldcraft to get myself close enough to get satisfying views, take a few notes (untrendy, I know, but I’m quaint like that) and try my hand at some photos too. It took an hour and a half of stalking around the side of the loch to get within reasonable range of the drake Lesser Scaup as it fed with a couple of Tufted Duck, and to have the sun behind me. I used every available bit of contour in the surrounding fields; moved only when all the ducks had dived; and ended up on my belly amongst the sheep shit by the shore. Glamorous stuff. Worth it though…

090515 Lesser Scaup 014for web

090515 Lesser Scaup 004for web

090515 Lesser Scaup 009for web

I felt and smelt pretty sheepy by the time I got to the evening ferry, to meet my tormentor (JLI) in the ferry queue. We were both back too late to see the Rustic Bunting BM had found at Brough, but worked the plantation in the last of the evening light to score Icterine Warbler and brief views of a cracking male Bluethroat. Tomorrow could well be a good day…

Scaup woe

Dropped into Loch of Benston twice yesterday, once on my way to work, and once on the way home looking for the drake Lesser Scaup. On both occasions I didn’t have much time available to me, and after seeing nothing in the morning turning up in the afternoon to discover what was presumably the bird on the distant shore of the loch was disappointing.

To be perfectly honest, it could just as easily have been a bog-standard Scaup instead of a Lesser Scaup at that range. The pale back was about all that it had going for it to suggest something of a scaupish persuasion, nevermind the precise species. So no way of picking out anything else on the wing pattern or head shape / colour etc. Rather than be stringy, for now Lesser Scaup stays off my (metaphorical) Shetland list. May try for it again this afternoon, and make the effort to walk around the lochside to get a little closer if it’s still playing hard to get.

Finished rabbit-wiring the the new yard yesterday evening, and just need to pull my finger out now with the higher level chicken-proofing and wind-meshing. Ideally I need to get my tatties planted in the next few days, which will conflict somewhat with the current south-easterlies and the welcome promise of some accompanying rain showers. We may finally get some fresh migrants.

Some evidence of that last night, as besides a freshly arrived Swallow hawking around the hen-yard, there was another new bird for the house yearlist. In the gloom after 10pm I couldn’t be sure what I was seeing when I found something small and dark flittering around my byre – my initial thought was that it was a bat! Closer to, the ‘bat’ resolved itself into a small chat-shaped bird silhouetted against the darkening sky as it perched on a wire fence. It felt kind of redstartish… This morning, the mystery resolved itself with a fine male Black Redstart outside the byre.