Donside’s newest resident: rare duck spotted on river

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A rare Harlequin duck has spent the week on Donside, after first being sighted on Saturday, January 3.

The attractive water bird is native to North America, Greenland, Iceland and Western Russia but is a short distance migrant and has only been spotted in the UK mainland on 10 occasions since 1950. This is the first ever sighting in the North East. Initially thought to be a female, closer inspection has revealed the bird to be a first-winter drake, which will later develop the spectacular plumage from which the species takes its name.

The Royal Society for the Protection of Birds charity has confirmed the ‘exceedingly rare’ nature of a Harlequin duck sighting. Mark Sullivan, Chairman of the Aberdeen and District RSPB group, said: “It’s very exciting. This is the first time this duck has been seen in the North-east and is probably only the 12th recording for Scotland.”

The last visit to the Scottish mainland, by one of these birds, was to Wick in 1991. Hundreds of twitchers from across the country have flocked to the area, joining local birdwatchers on the banks of the Don. For those hoping to catch a glimpse of the bird, the best viewpoints are at the Don Estuary from Seaton Park, where it has been feeding in the river. If you have any pictures of the elusive migrant, please get in touch.