Sunday, 8 January 2012

Rain, tens of white-winged gulls, more rain

I got to Skaill a little later than ideal and the tide was falling, High tide would be best probably. However, at the loch birds were still flying in, so too early in the morn, when you can't see anyway, would perhaps not be so good.

I saw a minimum of 25 Iceland and 11 Glaucous Gulls today - I know AL counted more than me at Skaill (27), but at one point I managed 21 between the loch and the beach.  I think there were at least 8 different Glaucous Gulls at Skaill. There was some evidence that birds were moving though south with birds at Marwick (4 Iceland) disappearing in that direction around 2 or so. However, a short sea watch at Pt of Buckquoy did not reveal any white winged gulls on the move there, there was just a single 3cy Glaucous looking miserable on the Palace beach. There were two Glaucous at Marwick as well.

 I think this is Kumlein's

 Very dark Glaucous Gull

WWGs on Skaill beach

Great photos as usual, although it was slinging it down all day, barely got light

Of the 21 birds I saw at Skaill I think two were Kumlein's but I may be wrong, I have limited field experience of this form (just one I think). The first initially appeared to be an adult, but when I saw it again on the beach, initially thinking it was a different bird, I realised it was not a full adult. The basal 50% of the bill was a murky, pinkish grey, the tip 50% straw yellow with an indistinct red spot. The eye was dark. There appeared to be very feint grey smudges in the primaries, very indistinct. This was a petite bird compared to many of the others present. I don't believe glaucoides can have this combination of bill, eye colour can it? The other bird was a 3cy and had some grey in the mantle, a dark tipped greenish bill, a dark eye and distinct brownish smudges in the primaries, across all primaries, again I don't think this is a combination that's ok for glaucoides but I'll be happy to be corrected. I did see the eyes well at fairly close range and viewed with the scope.

A fantastic spectacle at Skaill, just brilliant, if a little damp in the continuous rain today.



Nick Carter said...

Totally amazing, probably more white winged gulls at one site in one day than I've seen in a lifetime :)

Stewart said...

Great stuff Alastair. Thats the northern isles for you! Now for that Ross's or Ivory...

Alastair said...

Pretty amazing stuff chaps. I'll usher some of them your way... I'm a bit more confident about the Kumlein's now as well having looked at the Faroes birding blog (link in the side panel). I would love to find an Ivory Gull, there hasn't been one in Orkney for 40 years, hard to believe I know.

Nick Carter said...

Check out the Calderdale blog to see what we have in Ludd Dean :) OK not mega but nice birds to see.