Friday, 10 February 2012

Unusual Visitor to the River Nairn

Hello to visitors to the blog from other shores; it's a privilige to have you popping in once and a while to see what's going on in our beautiful part of the world (and hello especially to the Octon Two xx)

We've had a new visitor on the river over the past week or so: a Pintail.

Click on the photos for a closer look.

It seems perfectly happy lazing around with the resident Mallards, and they in-turn seem happy enough for him to stay for a while!

We've also had a pair of Red Breasted Mergansers; maybe the same pair as this time last year.  I've seen them from the mouth of the river all the way down toward Firhall Bridge.  Has anyone seem them further up river? 
Also on the river - and so easily mistaken for female Mergansers - are the female Goosanders.  The best way to tell the difference between the females of both species is the distinct break in colour from rufus red to white on the neck of the Goosander compared to the phased change in colour on the Merganser.  The Goosander also has a dark, bulbous downward pointing tip to the bill. I often have to take a second look to confirm.

The above two pics are female Mergansers. The bottom bird in the pic below (taken last year in completely different lighting conditions) is a female Merganser.  Again, click to enlarge and look at the colour pattern in the neck and look at the difference in the bill.

The other day I spotted a Great Northern Diver out in the firth off the west beach.  Well, I say I spotted it, it was actually a very experienced bird watcher from Inverness paying a visit to Nairn.  I saw him with his telescope, and as always, I can't resist the temptation to strike up a conversation with someone who looks interested in birds!  He said there was also a Red Throated Diver off the east beach.  Whilst looking over that way I saw a large flock of Dunlin settle on one of the sand bars just away from a crowd of Scoter.

On the same sandbar were a flock of Curlew; talking of which, I counted 173 Curlew in a flock feeding in a field on the Ardesier side of the airport today. 

Finally - the geese!  Thousands are back already and plenty more to come!


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