The great weather we have been having has been ideal for watching over Loch Indaal, which is currently peppered with divers, scoter, mergansers, eider, scaup and gulls. These are perfect opportunities for picking out some of our winter highlights - particularly the small numbers of Slavonian grebes that regularly spend the longer nights of the year with us. I spotted one yesterday off the power station on the way in to Bowmore.
It was quite distant, and although it is easy to identify as a grebe, I am glad that they do not overlap with Black-necked grebes here as they are difficult to tell apart at long range in winter. When you are in the pub it's easy - the Slavs are longer and sleeker with thicker bills and the black on the head does not extend down the face. When you are peering through watery eyes through a scope at a bird that is repeatedly diving in a choppy sea several hundred yards away it is much more difficult!!
I have seen Black necked on numbers of occasions down in England and also in Spain, but never here on Islay.
Photo: Jacobite Cruises Loch Ness - http://www.jacobite.co.uk/