For anyone wanting a good ID challenge checking any rafts of Auks may well turn up the much rarer Brunnich's Guillemot, a wanderer from the Arctic. One was seen at Burghead Harbour, three years to the day on 17th Nov. 2011 by a local birding tour group.
Sadly few caught up with this individual however as it was only identified from it's close range photograph three months later rather than at the time!!
Last January turned up an American Coot at Loch Flemminton, which ended up staying in to spring and was enjoyed by many. Already we've had the regular King Eider which is being seen around Burghead and Nairn though quite mobile. Surf Scoter is another sought after bird, with one being seen already this year it's worth checking the rafts of Scoter carefully for this distinctive bird with it's large white patch on the back of the head. Another duck long overdue for another find locally is Steller's Eider, a female was at Hopeman on 17th Novemeber 2000, maybe next time a male!
Probably one of the most unexpected and unusual mega rares to turn up was again nearby at Burghead in December 1994. A local birding group checking out a flock of Redshanks were amazed to find a Grey-tailed Tattler amongst them, a bird which should have been wintering in the warmth of SE Asia rather than the wintry cold of northern Scotland. Finally, to prove just about anything can still turn up even in mid-winter, our home village of Nethybridge lays claim to fame for surely one of the most remarkable winter rares, in fact it was only a 2nd for Britain (though the first was on St. Kilda!). An unusual bird seen and photgraphed at a local feeder turned out to be a stunning Evening Grosbeak, rather lost from where it should have been wintering across the other side of the Atlantic.