Day four into 2017 already, still without the rudder of a specific goal and so I’m just going with the flow. Last night Anemoi delivered and the house shuddered, coming from the south-east I sort of expected to see the area littered with tired alcids but that was not the case, although it may be in a day or two. Instead the gull influx continued and it made for a fun day of birding around Cape Sable.
Part of the alcid thing is to check each wharf as you pass and search the calmer areas for recently wind-bothered birds, and I don’t mean those that have been on a bean diet! Thick-billed Murres and Dovekies come inshore and end up being very confiding, mostly because we are just pink lumps to them, unless you are from Cape Island, in which case you are pink lumps dressed in camo, I have no idea how they find their clothes in the morning.
Swimm point turned out to be a good place to be and I found a nice 1stW Glaucous Gull that bullied everything, they must teach that in big gull school, also was a bonus year-bird, a 1stW Black-headed Gull.
The latter bird is most interesting as it surely comes from North American breeding stock as opposed to having crossed the Atlantic from Europe (discuss). There are certainly enough adult Black-headed Gulls around this side of the Atlantic these day to produce young and they are long-lived as adults. I have no doubt that birds at favoured sites are the same ones returning each year, and colour banding in Europe has shown their longevity and site fidelity. I got photos of both birds, despite the lousy light, big ISO and keep clicking is my policy.
Also of interest was this hefty Herring Gull, it was 10% bigger than all the other Herring Gulls present, perhaps it had recently devoured a consignment of pies?
The light was pretty yuk but I managed a few shots of the many Kumlien’s Gulls around, here are a couple.
As a break from the gulling it was nice to get a reasonable shot of a Black Guillemot too.
After returning home and telling Sandra of the good morning, she decided she needed to see some of the birds so we went out and did the circuit again, more or less, although the Black-headed Gull had moved on. Arriving home for the second time, Paul Gould called to say he’d seen a dowitcher and a couple of Red Knot on the beach at The Hawk, so for the third time today I fired up the Quattro (Life on Mars reference) and went looking. Just as I got onto the beach (on the falling tide) the shorebirds paused while I had a view, then came barreling past me, so I waved the camera at them. Not great results just doc shots, all but the Dunlin were eBird adds. I reckon the dowitcher to be Long-billed. It looked chunky on the beach and there is good foot projection in flight and, we had one around before the New Year so perhaps this is it.
The year ambles along on 75 species and is going along fairly well. The gull influx is welcome as I enjoy the challenge they present, as I am sure that you are aware. I think that is enough posting for a few days while I write the CSI big year up.