Saturday, 25 March 2023

Saturday 25th March

 Weather forecasts were a bit out today - it was generally much nicer than predicted, with a lot more sunshine and lighter winds than anticipated.

Theo from the Nature Scotland group sent in these two photos last night of a presumed hybrid Mallard x Pintail seen from the Gruinart hides and Mark S. had seen this "lame duck" wandering along the woodland trail earlier this week. This prompted our resident wildfowl experts to start posting pictures of other horrible hybrids and the comment that there are at least 121 variations of duck hybrids including 60 concerning Mallards. Why is this hybridisation so common in wildfowl compared to other bird families?

Anyway - today's news of "real birds" is as follows:
The female Surf Scoter was still showing in Loch Indaal off Bowmore and the female Marsh Harrier turned up right over by the airport for a change. I saw my first Sand Martin of the year at Ballinaby, while Mary Redman reports a group of 9 Chough down her way at Claddach and Jarred Johnson had 50 White-fronted Geese near Ballygrant and 5 Crossbills at Finlaggan. 

This late afternoon on a sunny and calm Loch Indaal off Port Charlotte there was plenty of seabird action as shoals of tiny fish leapt about on the sea's surface. I counted 24 Red-throated Divers, 39 Razorbills, 4 Black Guillemots, single Common Guillemot, 3 Common Scoter, 6 Eider, 55 Red-breasted Mergansers and 4 Gannets joining the fray at times. 

There was further tantalising news of no less than 3 Alpine Swifts on the northern cliffs of Rathlin today. We can see Rathlin clearly from Islay, but my 'scope isn't quite strong enough to pick out the swifts! 

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