Sunday, 30 January 2011

Gulls: no-show Norwegian and Iceland

A quick trip up the road to Alnwickhill water treatment works turned in to a long stake-out today. Soon after I arrived one of my target birds dropped in to my field of view - a colour-ringed Common Gull! For most folk, this would probably not be the most exciting of events, but it is something I have been actively looking for locally over the last couple of months. Today's bird had a white ring with black lettering, but frustratingly it moved out of view just as rapidly as it appeared and I could not be sure of the combination. I'm fairly confident that the first letter was 'J', which could indicate that it was ringed in Norway. Three cold hours later the bird still hadn't returned and I returned home disappointed, but with the consolation of having seen my first Linnets and Lesser Black-backed Gull of the year, as well as some less regular species at the site: Great Black-backed Gulls, Goldeneye and four Waxwings.

Once home I found out that I had been watching the wrong Edinburgh water-bodies this weekend - a first winter Iceland Gull had been seen since Friday at Dunsapie and St Margaret's Loch in Holyrood Park. With the light beginning to fade I decided that it might just be worth the couple of mile trip up to St Margaret's. By the time I arrived, most gulls had flown to roost and only a handful of Black-headed Gulls were still at the loch in the twilight. Never mind, it will probably return, so I read some Mute Swan colour rings in the fading light.

As I returned through the park, I paused to photograph the sunset and was pleased to notice that there was a Northern Fulmar high up over Our Dynamic Earth. Another appeared and the two birds began chasing and interacting like a pair of giant swifts careering through the twilight. It may have been cold, but it was a warming reminder that spring is not far away.

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