Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca)

There was just one record of this rare coastal visitor in this Atlas, when at least two, a male and female, were seen off Hoylake Shore (SJ29A) on 16 February 2005.

This is the least abundant of the major wintering sea ducks around Britain. Like most of the other immigrants from Fennoscandia and Russia, the majority is found on the east coast and few reach the Irish Sea (BTO Winter Atlas). Coward and Oldham (1900) knew of no records in Cheshire and Wirral, but obviously suspected their presence: ‘... a little vigilance on the part of local ornithologists would probably result in the addition of Velvet Scoter to the county avifauna’. However, it was not until 1921 that the first was seen by Boyd, off West Kirby on 30 October. Bell (1962) wrote that, since then, it has been reported almost every year in very small numbers, mainly off Hilbre or West Kirby, and occasionally from the Weaver Estuary. In the supplement to his avifauna, Bell (1967) said ‘records from the coast have been very scarce during the six years’ (1961 to 1966) but nevertheless he could list seven occurrences. From then on, birds have been seen in most years, mainly from October to January, although there are perhaps fewer in recent years, with none in 2001, 2004 or 2006.

Almost all records come from the north Wirral and there is only about one per decade from elsewhere in the county, the last in 2000.