Tuesday, 4 July 2017

What's Off Shore at Murcar Golf Course

The Scottish Golf Union cites Murcar Golf Course as "one of the most celebrated courses in Scotland".  It has hosted various Scottish and European events.  It lies to the North of Aberdeen and is a links course in sand dunes overlooking the North Sea.

I went there today not to play or even watch golf.  I went to look at the sea or rather to look at the birds on the sea.   This meant walking across the golf course to get to the top of the dunes.  It meant dicing with the risk of serious injury as golf ball fly around.  I found it very difficult trying to work out which direction they would come from.  Fortunately golfers are, unlike participants in other sports polite and courteous so on several occasions I was warned that there may be a ball whizzing towards me.

Having got across the course I then had to tackle the dunes.  There is a sort of path at the top of the dunes on the landward side there is a steep slope down to the golf course.  On the seaward side a vertical drop to the beach.  Every so often the path goes down into a ravine and up the other side.  Not easy when you are carrying a camera, binoculars and a telescope with tripod.

I went through all these hardships to find Scoters.  These are sea ducks that come to this part of the coast at this time of year to moult.  The most common is of course the Common Scoter.  There are thousands of them and they were a long way off shore.

A Raft of Common Scoters
This made my task of trying to find the handful of Velvet Scoters, the one or two Surf Scoters and the one White Winged Scoter somewhat difficult.  A task made even more problematical when after you had searched through half of the they all decided to take flight and land further up or down the coast.

Scoters on the move

I did manage to locate two Velvet Scoters.

There was another bonus.  I also found the King Eider.  Known locally as Elvis, 'The King' get it?  He has been visiting the area for quite a few years.  He hangs about with Eiders and in the past has usually been found on the Ythan estuary a few miles up the coast.  For the last week or so he has been seen on this stretch of the coast.

Four Eiders and at the rear One King Eider
There are several hundred Eiders here as well as the Scoters.  I was lucky because Elvis was closer in shore.  Here is the same raft of Scoters three photos above but with the Eiders a bit more spread out in the foreground.

Scoters in the distance and Eiders in the Foreground.
A bit closer still was another bonus.  A Red -Throated Diver

Red Throated Diver
More than likely if I had stayed longer I would have found the elusive Surf and White Winged Scoters but time did not allow for that and I had to run the gauntlet of the golf course to get back to the car and home for lunch.  Next time I think I will take a hard hat just in case.

Total on list 195

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