Thursday, 2 February 2017

1st-2nd February

Winter birding really is good fun up here in Orkney.  We've been very fortunate to encounter white-winged gulls on an almost daily basis.

1st February

The first day of the month brought with it an adult Iceland Gull which glided past Bride's Point before drifting up the coast.  It's outer primaries seemed to show dusky grey outer webs to the trailing half of the wing suggestive of ssp. kumlieni although this was never confirmed with more satisfactory views.  It associated with dozens of Herring Gulls, Great Black-backed Gulls, 146 Common Gulls and 7 Back-headed Gulls touring around the island.  Other notable species on the 1st included the lingering adult male Northern Harrier, Merlin, Peregrine, 5 Tysties, 5 Red-throated Diver and 3 Great Northern Diver.  The majority of our effort invested in the field has been focused on the southern portion of the island but still yielded modest totals of wildfowl including 189 Wigeon, 62 Teal, drake Green-winged Teal, 10 Pintail, 7 Long-tailed Duck, 3 Goldeneye and 2 Red-breasted Merganser.  Wader totals amounted to 93 Oystercatcher, 157 Lapwing, 28 Purple Sandpiper, 76 Dunlin, 12 Snipe, 34 Curlew, 38 Redshank and 51 Turnstone.  A yearling Common Seal at Bride's Point was an encouraging sight to round the day off.

2nd February

The day seemed to be set for a similar agenda as a juvenile Glaucous Gull glided past the obs as soon as we set foot out of the door.  A further 2 Iceland Gulls made an appearance cruising along the east coast and included the lingering 2nd winter and a new adult.  These associated with 274 Common Gull and 83 Great Black-backed Gull.  A morning seawatch from Dennis Head was very exciting as a 1st winter White-billed Diver drifted slowly north at 10:40-10:50am.  An additional 4 Great Northern Diver, 3 Red-throated Diver, 3 Little Auk and our first Bonxie of the year also passed by.  Further noteworthy species included 2 Mute Swan, 2 Whooper Swan, Shelduck, 8 Pintail, 135 Eider, 18 Long-tailed Duck and drake Smew.  A mixture of additional highlights included 2 Merlin, 23 Bar-tailed Godwit, 6 Snow Buntings and the first Goldfinch of the year.

juvenile Glaucous Gull (George Gay)

adult Iceland Gull (George Gay)

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