Sunday, 20 November 2016

20th November 2016 Unst Calm and clear

After being out all day yesterday and seeing very little I didn't have any great expectations for today. However, I had promised that I would help with the annual Greylag count so was out early and a little surprised that there was such a hard frost. I was almost immediately aware of a steady arrival of small flocks of large Gulls and soon saw a couple of flocks that included juvenile Glaucous Gulls. The first couple flew straight inland but some of the subsequent flocks were attracted to Norwick beach that was soon hosting 3 juvenile Glaucous Gulls. I digiscoped them with some of the resulting images revealing 4 were present with what appears an older individual amongst their ranks. Whilst they were sat there I saw another fly ashore before the Gulls were disturbed by a dogwalker and all flew inland. Another inbound flock then included another juvenile Glaucous Gull. Thinking that Burrafirth beach might be playing host to a few Gulls we headed there but nothing prepared us for the 300 or so large Gulls present spread along its length! I'd only just started properly scanning through them, having seen 4 juvenile Glaucous Gulls, when they unfortunately all spooked. My phone then started to ring with Brydon telling me that he had counted 10 among the birds in flight as he was viewing from across the bay. Glaucous Gulls suddenly seemed to be everywhere as virtually all of the Gulls flew south past us to the Loch of Cliff. At Skaw a juvenile Glaucous Gull flew inland and a juvenile and an adult were seen sat on the offshore island. We finally headed for Lamba Ness where a juvenile Glaucous Gull was seen flying north and a juvenile and a second-winter were sat on rocks there. Despite the distraction we still counted 174 Greylags. Apart from the arrival of Gulls the hard frost didn't see the arrival of any other hard weather migrants, and if fact, all day we only saw a handful of clifftop Blackbirds, 2 Redwings, 1 Fieldfare and 1 Skylark!

The first juvenile Glaucous Gull seen arriving with Herring Gulls

Another soon on its way

Four Glaucous Gulls (3 juv) on Norwick beach

First shot of the scene at Burrafirth and it reveals 3 Glaucous Gulls as below

three Glaucous Gulls at Burrafirth

Second shot of the scene at Burrafirth and it reveals 3 or 4 Glaucous Gulls

Third shot of the scene at Burrafirth that reveals 2 Glaucous Gulls and what appears to be a cheeky Iceland Gull that I didn't see in the field as below

 Iceland Gull (left) and Glaucous Gull (right) at Burrafirth

Fourth shot of the scene at Burrafirth that reveals 3 Glaucous Gulls

Fifth shot of the scene at Burrafirth revealing just a single Glaucous Gull

and whilst logic dictates that this depicts another argentatus it would be nice to obtain better images to see just how Azorean'esque it appears (also not seen in the field)

A frosty Norwick

A frosty Clibberswick but with calm seas

Adult Glaucous Gull at Skaw digiscoped at range

Second-winter and juvenile Glaucous Gulls at Lamba Ness