Thursday 28 March 2024

Common Scoters

Dungeness - cold, overcast, showery, SW5 - 0615-0815hrs - With a lively sea and a perishing cold wind conditions were not exactly favourable for a classic seawatch from the hide, and so it proved to be with little variety of seabirds on offer. The highlight was a steady up-Channel passage of scoters and divers, although most were well offshore, and countless Gannets even further out on the horizon as distant specks. Numbers during the two hour watch as follows: Common Scoter 210, Red-throated Diver 37, Gannet 55, Brent Goose 100, Sandwich Tern 10, Kittiwake 5, Med Gull 3, Fulmar 4, Oystercatcher 3, Red-breasted Merganser 2 (west). Three close Guillemots showed well on the sea along with the usual Great Crested Grebes, Cormorants and two Harbour Porpoises. 

                                   Common Scoter, Lydd-on-Sea, 2014

The usual view of a Common Scoter in spring at Dungeness is of a small black duck fizzing past the point in straggling lines, just like this morning. While there is a tiny breeding population in northern Scotland most of these migrants will probably be heading for the tundra wetlands of northern Europe and Russia to breed, having wintered along the western seaboard of Europe and Africa. However, back in 2014 when living by Lade bay the above drake was beached on the shingle (presumably exhausted) enabling close inspection of its impressive bill. After an overnight stay in a cardboard box I`m pleased to report that it was released the following day and seen to fly strongly back out to sea, apparently none the worse for its encounter with humanity. 

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