Sunday, August 06, 2006

A wee moose, and stop press, a wee gull!

Headed out round Newtonhill this morning, hoping against hope that a bit of migration or something might be happening. Not really expecting anything, so a bit surprised to find two Common Chiffchaffs in the Japanese Knotweed (bit of botany for you there) by the Elsick Burn - hell, maybe there *is* something going on. So I slowed down and had a good poke round. Didn't really turn anything else up apart from a load of surprised juveniles (Sedge Warblers, a fresh brood of Goldfinches, House Sparrows and Starlings, and a family of Willow Warblers including one juvvy trying to sing and getting it wrong, throwing in a pile of low pitched Blackcap-like notes) wondering who the 'pish monster' was who wouldn't leave them alone.

Vaguely aware of a constant trickle of adult and juvvy Barn Swallows heading south along the coast (30+), with a couple of Sand Martins, a few Sandwich Terns occupying the 'parent and child' spaces in Newtonhill Bay (eh?), and in an hour offshore the grand total of 2 Great Skuas (1 heading N, one on the water looking intimidating), and a 4 Common Terns. Saw 1 Puffin carrying fish to the clifftops, which surprised me, this late on in the season.

Dead (Common) Shrew count of 2 today, although I suspect one of them was an individual I'd noted previously and failed to eat. The second was definitely a new arrival. And a bonus! A House Mouse dead on the clifftop path! So much bigger compared to shrews. The problem with shrews is they're delicious at the time, but 10 minutes later you could manage another. Not so for mice, which keep hunger locked up til lunch.

Time off family duties for good behaviour, so got ano
ther hour's seawatching in the evening. It was very nearly very dull, although for the whole hour there was a raft of 50 feeding Kittiwakes just offshore with 33 Arctic Terns (ads and juvs) and 3 Common Terns. Another 5 Arctic Terns went north. 3 Great Skuas, 1 Arctic Skua and a Manx Shearwater,a ll north, 1 Common Scoter south, a juvvy Puffin on the water and 239 Gannets north (can tell I was bored by the way I counted the Gannets).

But no! not boring at all because right underneath my nose, there was an adult and juvenile Razorbill on the water, and a 1st summer Little Gull. Hurrah! And
it was doing something I'd never seen Little Gulls do before.. smoking a cheap cigar and drinking a Bacardi Breezer. No, that was me; the Little Gull was trying to feed in association with the Razorbills. For 15 min I watched it constantly. It would hover above the ad Razorbill, then follow it above the water when it dived, occasionally dropping to the water surface and pecking (presumably) at some piece of sea-crap churned up by the Razorbill. If it lost the adult, it would hang around above the juvvy (which was calling constantly) until the adult came back (that looked a bit clever to me). When the adult surfaced, it would sometimes splash down aggressively right next to the Razorbill, but never touching it - don't think it was trying to steal fish. Lots of Kittiwakes going past, which it ignored, but it flew at and chased off a single Black-headed Gull. Got some photos with the Coolpix on maximum digital zoom (so not v good quality - sorry moving too much to digiscope properly). It was still doing it 25 minutes later, but after that it turned up in the raft of Kittiwakes and terns, where it fed with typical tern-like hovering and dipping.

I was ready to write a Note to BB, incorporating the
words 'sea-crap', but on checking when I got home, I found this by Steve Madge from 1965 - describing every detail of what I had seen! Amazing, and I reckon if I'm only 41 years behind Steve Madge I'm not doing too badly.
Amazing though!

Below - some poor quality Little Gull with Razorbill.

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