Thursday, 19 July 2012

Unexpected Winger

With a hint of a breeze from the north this morning was another lazy one parked in the chair gazing out to sea. A smart drake Velvet Scoter would normally have been the highlight of the morning amongst, what was frankly, a slightly disappointing return of 33 Manx Shearwaters, 4 first-summer Little Gulls, a pale adult Arctic Skua and a Whimbrel. However late morning  scan number 100 (or so) drifted across the twin-hulled fishing boat numbered EF-22, it had been picking up pots or nets just offshore for a while and had a handful of  Great Black-backed's in attendance. I got my eye on a gull as it dropped into the side of the boat and noted an apparent lack of black on the wingtips. Frankly this happens regularly and I'm well used to the second look that makes a lie of the first one when it becomes obvious that due to brevity/light/angle/distance said gull really does have black wingtips and is 'just a Herring Gull' after all.

A couple of minutes wait as the boat drifted, the gulls on the blind side where presumably there was by-catch going back in and then my 'white-winged gull' took off and bugger me it was a white-winged gull. Ten minutes later and several views in flight and on the sea with GBB's for company and it was apparent that it was an adult (or near-adult) Glaucous Gull - in July! Not what I expected to be adding to the notebook when I headed out and one of those sightings that on paper if I'm honest I'd no doubt be raising an eyebrow at if I hadn't seen it myself.

Later I took the dog up to the pools behind Hemscott Hill to look for passage waders, no joy with waders but the main pool had two dip-feeding first-summer Little Gulls and the muddy cow field nearby held four juvenile Yellow Wagtails presumably local breeders rather than passage birds.

The new lake at Steadsburn (no official name yet) now visible after the roadside baffle bank has been removed, looks like it could be an interesting body of water for some species. Typically large gulls have taken to roosting on the bare earth surrounding the site quickly so a count of 233 Herring Gulls there today whilst looking for this year's YLG was notable. A juvenile Great Crested Grebe was on the lake for its second day.

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