Sunday, January 20, 2008

'King Eider

Blimey, the kiddies wasted no time today. As soon as they got up they were whinging for a) Breakfast and b) Playstation. Even by their standards they were persistent.

- Can I play Grand Theft Auto?
- No, Peter, you're 3!
- Can I play Grand Theft Auto?
- No
- Can I play Grand Theft Auto?
- No
- Can I play Grand Theft Auto?
- No
- Can I play Grand Theft Auto?
- No
- Can I play Grand Theft Auto later?
- Yes, OK, maybe, later.
.
.
.
[elapse, 20 seconds]
.
- Is it later now?
- Well, technically, yes, but...
- Hooray!!! [turns on Playstation]
- Whoa whoa whoaHHHH! Put that down!
- But you PROMISED [wails]...

Eventually Diane took pity on me and called through from her cosy bed that she'd listen to the whinging now, and I could get out. For a change I went up to Girdleness to look for the King Eider that has been around since last year.

No hurry, so parked in the first car park and walked along, looking at all sorts of birdy bollocks.

Look, I really was at Girdleness

Looking off from the foghorn, there was a smallish flock of about 25 Common Eiders among the breakers, but of course it wasn't with them. After a couple of minutes scanning, I picked the first winter drake King Eider about 800 m out with a male and female Common Eider. They did float in a bit closer during the next 30 minutes as I was watching. I considered going up to work to hoik one of the Coolpixes off a microscope, but couldn't be bothered, and took this with my phone, sorry.


As you see, the King Eider was surprisingly sh*t. Now sh*t is a word I use quite a lot, but not previously in relation to male King Eiders. Mind, I've never seen a first winter before either. A better photo is here (but even then, it's not much better, is it? :-)) Or this one (from when they were two). My first King Eider was a female, in Wales in 1991 - can you imagine the disappointment. Almost as exciting as your first Common Rosefinch, as NotBB would say. Anyway, the heavy white eye ring is obvious on this one, the smooth brown/black head, beginnings of a bill shape and some orangey pink colour. The breast a paler shade than the head, wings and flanks. Bit smaller than a Common Eider.

Of the other things on display, only a gathering of 25 Ringed Plovers on the rocks represented something I wouldn't have got in Newtonhill, although there were considerably more Common Redshanks here. And just to prove it, I went back to Newtonhil, where I saw 1 Common Redshank - considerably less than at Girdleness. There was a flock of 30 Northern Fulmars lingering offshore. I thought I was in luck that there were 2 porpoises splashing about off the rocks to the north, off Cran Hill. Bins up... and I kid you not, it was two people swimming. Yes, gently reader, swimming. I mean, not in their Speedos and nakedness, they were all wetsuited etc, but all the same, they were swimming in the North Sea in January, apparently for fun. As the turtle in Finding Nemo would say... 'Duuuuddddeessss, you have some serious thrill issues'.
AND THEN, a Bottle-nosed Dolphin swam past, as the two blokes hauled themselves out of the sea at the sewage outfall. The dolphin was naked. Duuuuddeeee!

Arty shot of a swollen burn.

1 comment:

Norma said...

I invite all birders I find on the internet to visit the Ivory-billed Woodpecker Foundation's Update Blog, just in case they are interested: ibwfound.blogspot.com