Tuesday, 19 February 2013

Harlequin Duck makes 100

Some days you have good ones and some days not so good but Mr Rabbitts certainly hit the jackpot when he found a 1st winter male Harlequin Duck at Traigh Iar, Balranald yesterday. There are 11 previous records from Scotland and 6 from the rest of the UK which makes this bird the 18th to be found in the UK. There are 3 previous records from the Outer Herbides including the first for Scotland, a male north of Berneray, North Uist on 13th February 1931. A long gap then followed until the second for the Outer Hebrides, a female was found at Coll, Lewis in January 2004. The third record for this archipeligo was also a drake seen off St. Kilda in May 2007 by just a couple of lucky obersvers there on the day.

This 1st winter male is currently hanging around a series of rocky outcrops and a small rocky island south of the coastal car park at Aird an Runair, Balranald. The first photo was taken yesterday against the light in the late afternoon. Unfortunately on clambering back off the slippery rocks my digi camera fell into a rock pool and now, not suprisingly is buggered. The rest of the shots taken today were obtained by holding a digi camera to the eye-piece of my scope so please forgive the quality. The bird spends most of its time a good distance from the shore so securing a decent shot is somewhat challenging. Even so, what a belting bird.

This turned out to be my 100th species in the Outer Hebrides this year and my 282nd species in the Outer Hebrides since January 2005. They do get harder!

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