Sunday 10 November 2013

Surf scooter

Doctor: 'So what's he done?'
Nurse: 'Fractured his clavicle'
Doctor: 'How old is this guy?'
Nurse: '40 something'
Doctor: 'How did he do it?'
Nurse: 'Fell off his son's scooter'
Nurse: 'At least he was playing with his kids...'

This conversation, overheard outside the Triage room of the Dorset County Hospital A&E Department this evening, would have been quite amusing had I not been the subject of it.
The distinctive head shape and pattern of a juvenile Surf Scoter
The unfortunate result of some juvenile high jinks rather took the shine off the comprehensive 9-1 drubbing served up to Shaftesbury under-11s by visiting Wareham Rangers earlier this afternoon. Perhaps I was feeling invincible, inspired by the example of Moore Jnr, who minutes previously had scored the crucial 9th goal - a morale-sapping, stanchion-rattling volley kneed in from close range - just when the Shafters looked like clawing their way back into the game at 8-1 down.
The all dark wings help rule out the only real confusion species, Velvet Scoter.
Before all this tomfoolery I had spent a happy morning photographing the juvenile Surf Scoter in Poole Harbour, found on Thursday by Birds of Poole Harbour frontman Paul Morton, without the aid of his webcam this time. A coveted Dorset tick, it turned up on Thursday, just a couple of hours after I left the county for two days work in neighbouring Devon. So keen to catch up with it was I that I was first on site in Saturday morning's appalling weather, the worst of which I was spared thanks to the cosy National Trust hide at Brands Bay. Two attempts to photograph it at great distance in dark and damp conditions yesterday left me with nothing but dots on the sensor and chilblains from sitting down on a cold, wet harbour shore.
The Scoter associated loosely, but not always cordially, with Great Crested Grebes - this one chased it around for a minute or so
Today I was better prepared, teleconverters and a camping chair packed for a lengthy stakeout. I noted that it came in with the tide at 0800 Saturday, so figured 0900 would be a good time to start scanning on the rising tide today. A few birders were leaving already having not seen the bird, but it didn't take long before it did indeed appear from the north, albeit distantly.

Tail often held cocked
Despite heading our way it turned back and seemed to be feeding further up the harbour edge. I decamped and headed for the nearest promontory which afforded excellent scope views and made some record shots possible thanks to excellent light and the sun right behind me.

Surf Scoter dives with a small leap, opening the wings just before submerging. Like this.
Anyway, in case you were wondering, typing with a fractured collarbone is just about possible one-handed, but holding a camera is out of the question, so the good news is you'll be spared more grainy out of focus record shots like these for a while.
Not sure what's going on here - looks like a big pink tongue hanging out
I've been told to take 'nil by mouth' after midnight tonight, as I may need to go under the knife tomorrow to have some kind of metal plate fitted. Perhaps the NHS (who were great tonight by the way, even reassuring me that scooter-based injuries to Dads who should know better were actually quite common) could be persuaded to put a screw thread in the plate so I can use it as a lens mount.
This smart Great Northern Diver was slightly overshadowed by the rarer visitor to Brands Bay

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