Sunday, 28 October 2012

Lesser Scaup at last

Even though the weather was beautiful on Saturday I decided to take a day off and do some other stuff. However late that evening Owen Foley contacted me to say he was 99% sure that he had a Lesser Scaup over at Rostellan Lake. It was near dark at that stage but well worth being there early Sunday morning. Lesser Scaup is a long awaited lifer for me not to mention a very good bird for east Cork. I had plans to head into Cork city Saturday night to partake in the mayhem that is the Cork Guinness Jazz Festival. While I stuck to those plans I decided to take it a bit easy so I could twitch the bird the next morning.
When Owen texted me at 8.30am to say the bird was still there and in quite close to the carpark, I ditched plans for a lie-in and headed straight away to Rostellan.
I arrived at about 10am joining Owen, Dennis O'Sullivan, Paul Moore and John Coveney who had already gotten good views of the bird amongst the small flock of Tufties. It had gone around a corner out of sight just before I arrived but by moving back around to the main Midleton to Aghada road I was able to see it. Views were good but the light was nasty, very dull indeed. The bird appeared to be a first winter female, lighter on the flanks than the Tufties and a large enough white patch around the base of the bill. The peaked hind crown wasn't as striking as I would have expected but there nonetheless.
The flock took flight at one stage and it was just possible to pick out the diagnostic wing pattern on the bird before it landed (i.e. the white on the inner wing did not extend out to the primaries). Unfortunately I never got a shot of the bird with open wings but that may be possible in better light tomorrow.

The temperature was about 9oC and the wind was light, but heck did it feel cold. After an hour watching the bird, Owen and myself went on a coffee run to Whitegate where I filled up on a healthy breakfast roll too.
While all this was going a second subplot had been developing. A Common Sandpiper had been busy feeding on the rocks along the shore to the right hand side of the carpark. It had a suite of features that suggested juvenile Spotted Sandpiper, a short looking tail projection, clean looking tertials and at times yellowish legs (although in poor light I felt it was hard to tell). When we arrived back with the coffee the bird was in very close feeding below the wall. I took as many shots as I could and while many of them were blurred a few came out reasonably well. It certainly looked like a promising individual but we hadn't heard the call or seen the wing pattern. Owen, Denis and Paul were most certainly leaning towards Spotted Sand. Then the bird took flight, just a short distance and without calling. We all got binocular views and were puzzled then when it appeared that the white bars ran all the way in to the inner wing (ala Common Sandpiper).
So it would appear to be a Common Sandpiper with a number of Spotted Sand features........hmmh!?
I've posted some shots below and would invite comment.

Common Sandpiper, Rostellan Lake - 28th October 2012
A little disappointed by this we turned our attention back to the Lesser Scaup. Light had improved a little and the flock finally came in close enough for a few reasonable shots.

1st winter female Lesser Scaup - Rostellan Lake, Cork - 28th October 2012
I've never seen the species before however I imagine that getting this close to one is doing very well. They are normally distant specks on large midland lakes in the middle of winter. Great to tick it on such good views. With better light tomorrow I may return for nicer shots. Well done to Owen for a great find, very much doubt I would have picked it out myself, especially in poor light.

Dennis O'Sullivan, Alex Jeffares, Owen Foley and Paul Moore twitching the Lesser Scaup at Rostellan lake
I headed to Knockadoon Head afterwards but had little there. Paul Connaughton had a juv. Rosey Starling just before I arrived but we couldn't relocate it. I checked the Hume's garden where Owen had brief views yesterday of a very skulking and silent Pallas's Warbler but to no avail. A male Blackcap at the caravan park was the best bird I had.

1 comment:

  1. Looks more like a hybrid than a Lesser Scaup (shaggy crest, extensive black on nail suggesting Tuftie is involved)