Wednesday, October 24, 2007

And... Pull!! Bang! Bogey bird down!

Aha. Bogey bird White-winged Tern still showing on-and-off Monday and yesterday at Loch of Skene. I had the car again today, but it didn't seem to want to take me straight to work. I *tried*. I really tried, honest, but it kept pulling off to the left towards Loch of Skene, so once I was there it seemed almost churlish not to have a wee look for the tern. This is what it looks like on a chilly dawn.

The haunted Loch of Skene. Note platform favoured by scarce Chlidonius terns, and the line of Pink-footed Geese preparing to fly off (in a line just below the top of the water level, top left).

I stood there for nearly an hour, admiring the cold. (eh?). Plenty of birds around - ~3000 Pink-footed Geese doing their dawn flight in dribs and drabs, Eurasian Wigeons, Tufted Ducks, Common Pochards, marauding gangs of up to 20 Goosanders (Common Mergansers) practicing their synchronised swimming for the 2008 Olympics, a few Mute Swans, Grey Heron, Great Cormorants and a Moorhen. But noticeably no terns, and I was starting to jump up and down and shake my puny fists at the vast empty sky (nearly empty, save for a flock of 150 Northern Lapwings), but there was a bit of encouragement... as the night shift headed noisily off to the fields, the day shift of a flock of Common (Mew) Gulls and a few Black-headed Gulls were coming in from the north, whence the WWTern was meant to be. Work was calling, when out of nowhere I saw the White-winged Tern in flight, east of me heading north away over the trees. Total length of observation, about 0.5 s!! This was most unsatisfactory... a) where the hell had it been? and b) had I seen enough to tick it?? :-O and probably not... white rump looked OK, but the angle was a bit acute and bugger, where the hell was it going? I jumped around on the spot like Rumpelstiltskin for 10 min, and then put it out to BirdGuides that it was seen heading off at 09:20. No sooner had I done that than I was back to the scope for another scan of the loch, when there it was sat on its favourite platform, about 400 m away. NOW it was just messing with my head, but at least properly under the belt. Below are crap but real field sketches (really must buy a pencil, and a rubber!)Even then it only sat there for 5 minutes when it was flushed by a big flock of geese coming back in. Lost it to the north, and had to go to work. But guessed it was feeding in the fields to the north, where indeed it was found later in the day.

This is what the flight of Pink-footed Geese sounds like... here. Turn it up LOUD, and then run for your life.

Eeek! Thanks to Remembird for this aural assault.

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