Thursday, May 10, 2007

Ythan Estuary

The Ythan estuary - a place of great beauty (sea is behind those dunes in the distance)

And a not inconsiderable number of Common Eiders (more than would be typical in Newtonhill, for example)

I skived out of work early as there was a birders' social evening in Newburgh and I spied the opportunity to do a bit of birding on the Ythan beforehand. It was well worth it too. Started by the golf club looking over the river to Sands of Forvie, and the place was crawling with birds. About 800 Common Eiders (some of them in that flock above). They were making a bit of noise, but nothing compared to the 100+ Black-headed Gulls flocking about, who were in turn bugging about 100 Sandwich Terns and 40 Arctic Terns on the opposite shore. Quite a few Common Terns around too, and after a few minutes there were 6-10 Little Terns flickering about. Scanned through the terns on the deck, and picked up 2 1st summer Little Gulls. When a helicopter went over, the whole lot flushed, and the Little Gulls flew round and round, attempting to land in the gull/tern colony but were industriously chased off by an aggressive trio of Black-headed Gulls.

Scanning round the river... 7 Red-breasted Mergansers, and a single female Long-tailed Duck, with some Northern Gannets and a couple of Red-throated Divers going north offshore.

In the mud, a few Common Shelducks, 11 Ruddy Turnstones, 8 Ringed Plovers, 18 Dunlin, and an absolutely stunning Whimbrel, really strong head pattern. Only about 50 Herring Gulls around, with one or 2 Great Black-backed Gulls, and 1 Lesser Black-back.

Round to the north side of the river (Yellowhammers, Common Stonechats and Willow Warblers in the gorse at the golf club) I walked up the path along the shore, passing hundreds of ridiculously tame eiders. There were several Northern Lapwings on the rough ground to the north, and a Common Buzzard bugging them as it looked for chicks etc. 4 Bar-tailed Godwits on the mud along here, with 1 Eurasian Curlew and then another 5 Whimbrels... see photo :-$

I was trying to take a photo of that blurry Whimbrel in the foreground, all phone-cams. Note bill colours of the Eiders, btw. The majority of the eiders here had 'typical' green-grey bills, maybe up to 5% with predominantly yellow bills.

Seven more spanking Ruddy Turnstones, sniffing each others' bums, and a couple of Eurasian Wigeon.

that's an eider in the photo, btw, not a wigeon, but you would have spotted that for yourself.

I walked all the way along to the tern colony fenced-off bit, and looking out over the river from this new angle... more eiders and rb mergansers, and a pair of Greater Scaup! Outrageous. Cooking on gas, but still freezing. I walked back - only new birds a pair of Grey Partridge on the rough ground. In 2 1/2 hours I'd seen loads of birds that are hen's teeth back on the patch.

The Ythan - a celebration of DEATH

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