1999: Velvet Scoters, Lunan Bay

Lunan Bay

Last century’s October trip through Angus continued on the 2nd:

“First stop on my way north from Auchmithie was not far but the lure of velvet scoters was too great. Lunan Bay is backed by sand dunes, which give one some good height for scanning the sea. Sure enough there were black blobs out there, but motionless and far off. They could have been almost anything, even through my Canons (the 15x stabilisers). The backlight was still strong, so I took off down the beach to kill some time.

“A flock of gulls loafed by the outlet of Lunan Water and as I drew nearer a group of three different shapes. The binoculars resolved them into terns but they did not look quite right. Closer inspection revealed dark shoulder patches and ragged lower borders to their caps: black terns. In fact only two of them looked like this. The third was larger and clearly an arctic tern. A fourth bird flew in to feed one of the blacks, so it looked like a family party heading south.

“The gulls behind the terns were largely kittiwakes, which I had initially taken for common gulls. I was not used to seeing them at ground level.

“I returned to the scoters, which were now obliging by periodically flapping wings – clearly with white speculums (specula?) Great crested grebes and a lone red-throated diver completed the picture. More than enough to be satisfied with at one location. And the day had hardly started.”

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