Sunday 3 April 2016

Where shall we go on a family walk?

Using an old Jedi mind trick employed by birders with families the world over, I persuaded the family that the ideal pre-lunch family outing should be to Ruddon's Point on the north side of the Firth of Forth. "Is there a rare bird there?" was Mrs L's immediate response. "No no no no no no no, er well yes maybe. Well, it was there yesterday. Probably gone now, I wouldn't worry". Somehow the destination remained unchanged, and so a small gaggle of us arrived to some mild rain at the Shell Bay caravan site mid-morning. The target was a female King Eider a lovely family walk in a beautiful location. A location that frequently attracts rare nearctic ducks. Allegedly.

No proper camera today, but there were loads of these about looking marvellous.

I walked briskly to the Point, children, wife and father left in my wake. It was going to be challenge with bins only but I felt confident I could pick up her supreme gingerness at some distance. Mistake. The flocks of ducks were generally miles out, and with the nearer birds quickly dismissed any hope of finding the Queen Eider was basically dead in the water. Still, it isn't all about rare birds these days, and so just with bins I had a careful scan of what was identifiable. And it was superb, from a Londoner's perspective there was quality everywhere! A Red-throated Diver was close in, and small flocks of Mergs drifted along. As well as the Common Eider, small numbers of Common Scoter were visible, but nothing gave a flap to show white panels so Velvet remains needed for 2016. Two larger Divers were further out, but I wouldn't like to put a name to them. Probably one each of GND and one Black-throated if I had to guess..... A Long-tailed Duck was diving constantly quite close in, and Mrs L and Père L were able to get on a Gannet flying over. A few Razorbills were seen, and before I was dragged away I also saw groups of OystercatchersRedshank and a Curlew. So although necessarily brief, you really can't fault even the shortest time birding Largo Bay. Most enjoyable, and all to the backdrop of singing Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Yellowhammers and Chaffinches

Mrs L describes my waistline.
Along the beach we were diverted by stone skimming, and the children were pleased to get up close and personal with a Common Eider which showed very well indeed. Back where we had left the car, right at the entrance to the caravan park, were two birders with scopes. You know what they say, find the birders find the bird. Well it's very often true and remained so today - they had Mrs King Eider lined up and ready, and had done really rather well as she was pretty far out towards Edinburgh. Decent views though, and easily pickable amongst the Common Eider

Afforded excellent views whilst resting on the beach.

By fortunate happenstance there was a drake Ring-necked Duck at Kilconquhar Loch, only a short distance away from where we had ended up on our family outing. It would have been rude not to go really, so the family waited patiently* in the car whilst I walked through the church yard to have a look. Without a scope this was rather a challenge, but my recent familiarisation in Arizona helped my clock the two-toned flanks from quite a way away. Not the best views ever, but when ticking rare birds when did that ever matter? Quite. Kerching. 

All good and so back to Uberchateau L for a lovely and well-deserved lunch, two rarities UTB and a host of decent and distinctly non-E11 birds seen in a great location. I've never been disappointed birding the Fife Coast, and I'm fortunate to have a second base up here from which to conduct filthy twitchery and other bird-based activities. Aviemore etc is only a couple of hours away, Norfolk distance basically, and you've a ton of great birding spots up there. As the old folks, er, get older, no doubt I'll be making more trips this way, and that can only be a good thing. For family harmony. Obviously.

* not patiently at all, do they not realise that one does not simply rock up and instantly find yank Ducks? 

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