Thursday, 25 July 2019

Strontian hybrid - Possibly

After an enjoyable day on Ardnamurchan I made my way back to the village of Strontian and checked in for the night at the Strontian Hotel. I've stayed at some beautiful places during my travels but this is surely amongst the best. What a location, what a view. However despite not booking the place myself, I hadn't arrived here by pure chance.

An incredible location!

Strontian from Morvern.

There has been an American Black Duck at Strontian for several years now, and since I've only ever seen one and that was 35 years ago on the North Wales coast, I was keen to see this bird. However it is notorious for being very elusive at times and I can see why. Although at times it can be seen very well on the estuary right outside my hotel, it seems to spend long periods on the river upstream of the second bridge. Trouble is, with Birdguides you don't know if that is actually where it was seen today or if that's just a message they've been repeating for 5 years and it's actually somewhere completely different now. Well it certainly wasn't on the estuary, I spent plenty of time looking, in fact there were hardly any mallards out there during my stay, but at least I did have a nice view of an otter fishing. So three times I walked up and down the river, well beyond the second bridge and saw virtually no mallards and certainly no black duck. There were about 20 mallards near the first bridge but they were clearly all mallards in eclipse. It's not easy at this time of year, the mallards are in eclipse and there are older juveniles around. And viewing the river isn't easy, it's completely lined by trees and shrubbery so you only get to see glimpses of it, there could be 100 black ducks asleep on the banks.

I didn't see the bird, it's a drake with a greeny / yellow bill so it's clearly not the bird in the photo. After being present for so long there are inevitably a few hybrids around just to further confuse matters and I suspect that this is one, a female black duck x mallard hybrid. I may be completely wrong though, it could just be a juvenile mallard!

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