Like the American Wigeon in the spring I was scanning through the duck flock a number of times before picking out "the different one". This time the bright white flashes on the breast sides drew my attention to a black, grey and white Aythya duck that seemed subtly different from a Tuftie. It was feeding along the edge, near the far bank, so took a bit of concentration but eventually it turned and showed the broad white band on the bill and the distinctive head shape.
Six Patchwork points, nice! (Couldn't refind it today though.)
Other nice things at Howaback included 2 Slav Grebes, 9 Whooper Swans, 45 Twite and a couple of Stonechat.
Then on to The Merkister where 700 or so Pochard were quite a spectacular sight. Loch of Bosquoy produced two drake Goosander, first for the winter and rather bizarrely the much travelled (around the county) Black Swan.
Then home for much searching for Woodcock (not found) and small birds, Blackcap, Brambling being the best. There were some great birds during the day, three Hen Harriers, a Shortie, four Kestrel sightings of at least two individuals. Interesting unseens were Song Thrush, Woodpig (which have left in the last week or so), Moorhen, Linnet (which I probably saw but they were distant in the neeps), Buzzard (which I saw but off patch whilst on an early afternoon errand). Right at the end of the afternoon a mystery warbler was feeding amongst the almost bare twigs of the Sycamores, too little light to identify. Interestingly this morning there was a Chiffchaff with the Blackcap, so that probably solves the mystery, it never pumped its tail usually a give away for a chiff. 53 species gave me a 50.96% #patchday score.
Today I spent a few hours at Birsay for 40 species, best being Pochard new for the year for that patch, a male Hen Harrier and two Red-throated Divers. 40.4% #patchday score.