It was coming up to the end of January so I decided to make the most of my last weekend of the month. Having set myself a very ambitious target to see 100 new species this year, I decided to go to a place called Ardmore Point (on the west coast of Scotland) hoping to see some new divers/ducks that could increase my monthly total of 7 new species so far this month.
I arrived in less than an hour from home which was much sooner than I expected and was amazed that such a nice place was so much closer to me than I thought. During the car journey I saw several Buzzards perched on branches and lampposts looking in the fields around them.
When I arrived at Ardmore Point and I got out the car I looked over the stunning mudflats which were covered with Oystercatchers feeding on invertebrates in the sand. I watched for a while before noticing a small group of Grey Plovers which took off and flew around in circles before landing on some other rocks in the distance.
I walked around the point for about a further 10-15 mins before spotting a group of Eiders feeding on snails and crabs; the sunlight helped highlight the spectacular plumage of the male in particular. Just as the Eiders started to drift off further away from the shore, I was interrupted by a Rock Pipit which was hopping between the rocks scooping up what it could get with its thin beak.
Walking further on, it wasn’t long before I saw loads of Wigeon, Teal, Mallards, Canada Geese and some Herring Gulls. I was so lucky that the weather was nice with only a very light breeze and some nice winter sun. Feeling hungry, I found a spot on the rocky shore to set down my scope and rucksack and have some lunch.
After lunch I spotted a Redshank and took the opportunity to get some photos; then I saw two strange black ducks duck in the distance which I couldn’t make out properly, even with my scope. Walking further round the point to get a better view I saw someone else with a scope, so I headed over to him to see what was there. We chatted about what we’d seen so far and managed to get our scopes trained on the ‘mystery’ black birds. We tracked them on and off for nearly 2 hours as they slowly got closer, until eventually we could make them out …….……. they were Velvet Scoters – a new ‘lifer’ for me and completely unexpected!
In between the time tracking the Velvet Scoters I also manged to see a Long Tailed Duck in the distance and a Red Breasted Merganser which I managed to get some decent shots of.
As the sun went behind a large cloud the wind got up and we decided to start the hour-long walk back to the car, stopping only briefly to take a few more photos of some Redshank and Oystercatchers. After about 5 hours my day was done, I left Ardmore Point promising to be back sometime soon!