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Post Info TOPIC: East Lothian

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East Lothian

A full-on twitch to Musselburgh for the recently split American White-winged Scoter with Paul Greenall (our impeccable driver), Ian Lyth and Roger Baker.

Alarm set for a brain-shattering 01.30 and our journey north began inauspiciously with delays due to i-phone updates and motorway closures. Nevertheless we arrived at the picturesque Esk estuary at 07.15. The sun broke through a brightening, grey sky as we started sifting though the Velvet Scoters. It was nearly low tide and many of the scoters were too distant to make out the crucial detail, plus a light mist hung over the sea. We stuck at it and eventually had great, close views of Velvet Scoters, Common Scoters, Red-throated Divers, summer plumaged Slavonian Grebes, Long-tailed Ducks (some stunning males in breeding plumage) and a very distinctive and easy to find male Surf Scoter. This was a far cry from the usual North Wales experience where the 1000s of scoters are at a far greater distance.

We had been advised that 2 hours either side of high tide was the optimum time but the high tide at 14.15 came and went without success. The more distant scoter flock didn't move with the incoming tide and remained tantalisingly distant until a small motor boat dispersed the lot and they flew to an even greater distance. Sizeable flocks of Bar-tailed Godwits, Curlew, Knot, Turnstones gathered and entertained, one Barwit carried a red ring on the left leg and a yellow flag (NAA) on the right, I will try to discover its history. A mile or so round the sea front there were up to 50 Velvet Scoters in small scattered groups and these were much nearer, but repeated scanning of these failed to produce our quarry.

We called it a day at 17.15 consoling ourselves that we had had a great day's birding but secretly disappointed that we had dipped the main prize. We were heading south on the A1 when we received a phone call, the White-winged Scoter had been re-found (by the original finder as it happened). Much cursing and muttering as we high-tailed it back to the Esk and fast-walked the mile to find a small group of birders on the bird. It was showing incredibly well at approx 150m range with a low sun behind us lighting up the whole scene. (The attached photographs of the scoter courtesy of Stephen Duffield).

More delays on the return journey due to the lost glove incident and a car park lock-in meant I didn't get home till 01.40. A very memorable 24 hours twitch.

Cheers John

-- Edited by John Rayner on Monday 16th of April 2018 12:14:30 AM

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