Sunday, 8 September 2013

Ring-necked Ducks in Lothian

Ring-necked Duck with Teal behind and to the right and Mallard in front. Tufted Duck in foreground. Note headshape of Ring-necked Duck, pale band on bill and pale wedge at front edge of grey flank. Photos taken last weekend.

My most recent Lothian tick has been the moulting male Ring-necked Duck that has been hanging out in White Sands Quarry since it was found in late June. It took me two months to have a look given other commitments over the summer, but sure enough, if you are willing to look long and hard enough it can be picked out at distance among the flock of moulting Tufted Ducks. Almost as rare are the couple of Pochards that are also in the flock.

Extensive black area on vent and hind belly

Viewing the lake is not easy. There are two options and both are distant. To get the best light try from the lay-by just past the turn off to White Sands bay beach car park in the morning. Towards the late afternoon try from the birding screen. Hopefully, if this site is developed for both birds and birders some sensitively designed viewing hides could be installed with concealed walkways to allow a closer approach...
Grey wing-bar visible when wing flapping

Whichever time of day many of the ducks will be either actively diving or roosting on the water or around the edge. The Ring-necked Duck is becoming more distinctive as the grey flanks and white wedges are beginning to become striking. The pale band across the bill is another feature that can be distinctive at distance. If the bird flaps its wings then the grey wing-bar is diagnostic. Finally, one subtle feature of the bird out of the water is the shape and extent of the black around the tail and vent area - just seemed more extensive black on the rear belly than a tuftie to me anyway.

This is only the eighth record of Ring-necked Duck in Lothian. With five of these since 2000 it certainly seems to be detected with increasing regularity. Initial sightings have been well spread through the year with Feb (2), March, April, May, June, July and October being the months that birds have been found. It seems that any large waterbody is worth checking with records from Linlithgow (2), Whiteadder, Seafield Pond, Gladhouse Res, Duddingston and Drem/East Fortune all having records.

Ring-necked Ducks in Lothian

22 June 2013–  male, White Sands Quarry
12 October 2008 juv, Whiteadder
19–22 July 2008 male, Linlithgow
26–27 April 2006 male, Seafield Pond
12–16 May 2002 female, Gladhouse Reservoir
26 Feb–16 March 1989 male, Linlithgow
24 March 1982 male, Duddingston
6 Feb–9 May 1977 female, Drem and East Fortune

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