Monday, 26 December 2011

Iceland Gull

Amidst the mighty waves a white-winged gull approached the Brough of Birsay car park from the east this morning. Unfortunately, instead of sailing past 20 metres from my position it cut inland across the fields and headed for Marwick. Subsequent searching failed to reveal it. No doubt it was a 1cy with its rusty tones on upper wing coverts body and tail. At first I thought it looked huge, but it was a predominantly white bird against a grey background and thus bound to look big. The arm and especially the hand were long, the wings looked elegant, slender for a bird of this size, and the flight was graceful. The under body showed no sign of the dark grey tones that a Glaucous Gull might sport. It was too far away to see any detail on the bill, but would the characteristic and distinct Glaucous bill pattern of a 1cy have been discernible at that range (about 600metres or so).

My new found caution with this species pair left me initially to hum and ha. The buffeting of the breeze (ha, ha), the distance and the brevity of the view didn't help but it had to be an Iceland Gull.

We then contemplated a walk and I went around the back of the car to hold the door whilst Louise got the waterproofs out. Open door, Louise flails as waterproofs get out all on their own and head rapidly in a gangly, airwalk towards the ocean. Subsequent good fielding by Louise recovered two pairs and slightly mad wave dodging on the beach below the cliff captured the last unruly legs.

I've slowly been reading The Sound Approach since I borrowed a copy (thanks JB) and then was given it last summer. It took me a while to locate my old CD Walkman, ideal for listening as you read. (No don't try putting all the files on your iPod, totally hopeless - shuffle Floyd, Lupe, Kate, Golden Plover, The Stones, Willow Tit etc.) For Christmas Louise bought me Birding from the Hip. Now I've never been a fan of Birdwatch magazine so I was entirely ignorant of Anthony McGeehan's articles in that publication. This is just such a good read, and listen. The use of the CDs to make a kind of birders' Radio 4 is brilliant. This is the best book about birders and birding, and our obsession's impact on our nearest and dearest that you'll read; highly recommended.

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