Tuesday, 24 May 2016

24th May 2016 Esha Ness N3-4 Cold

With a trickle of Skuas passing the Western Isles and a northerly wind blowing it seemed a good day to try Esha Ness and all the more so that I'd be sea-watching alongside Mark who has put in the hours there over many years now. On the way, at Hillswick Pig Farm, we found another interesting Gull with white primaries that basically looked good for a juvenile Iceland Gull until it flew and the upperside of its primaries appeared rather uniform grey. Not wanting to miss any passing Skuas we didn't watch it for long. At Esha Ness, whilst we didn't see any Long-tailed or Pomarine Skuas, Mark's sharp eyesight is legendary and proved itself yet again as he picked out 2 Killer Whales powering north with his naked eye - absolutely superb! The first I've seen in Britain and looking incredibly powerful and in a rush as they quickly moved north. We returned to Hillswick where more prolonged views of the Gull allowed us to appreciate its subtle characters consistent with Kumlien's Gull. We checked a couple of sites for passerine migrants but they seemed very quiet. The time flew and all too soon I was saying goodbye to Mark being the last car on the ferry north with a minute to spare having thoroughly enjoyed another day with him.

Kumlien's Gull 1 juvenile
Arctic Skua 2
Puffin c.25

KILLER WHALE 2 N at 9.30am

Killer Whale moving north past Esha Ness
quite a large, hefty looking Iceland Gull with rather dark underparts especially considering the time of year with a few grey centres apparent to its primaries

bill rather robust and predominantly dark

underside of primaries showing Venetian blind effect

dark centres and outer-webs of primaries grey-washed

Juvenile Kumlien's Gull at Hillswick
Upperwings appearing very uniformly grey with outer primaries darrker and a dark subterminal band to its tail