Friday, 29 August 2014

The Last Session

The final seabird ringing session of the year took place this week involving all the Fulmar chicks on Inner Farne. It won't be long until these guys leave the islands and get their first taste of the ocean, potentially their home for the next 60 years!!!! Fulmar chicks are feared by predators thanks to a special defence mechanism; vomit. If another bird is caught in the firing line of this oily mixture, it destroys the waterproofing of its feathers and can render it unable to fly. For us, it just means a revolting smell that is incredibly difficult to get off your clothes, so pouncing on them quickly is a must.

Fulmar and I

Lana, ringing with a view

As for migrant birds... well. A poorly timed day off saw us miss the first excitement of the Autumn, a Citrine Wagtail. With easterlies hitting we knew there was a risk, but didn't expect it to be that bad!! Having seen two before it wasn't the end of the world, but it is now a gaping hole in my Farnes list. Despite a nice sprinkling of Wrynecks, Pied Flys, Greenish and Icterine Warblers along the east coast, the Citrine Wag had only had a supporting cast of Willow Warblers, Wheatears and a single Whinchat (all lovely in their own right may I add).

Wheatear poses nicely.

Rock Pipit catching the light nicely.

The main highlight for us came from the sea (or over the sea) in the form of a Great Shearwater, a good bird for the east coast and only the 13th record for the Farnes. It showed well but fairly distantly as it made its way through the Inner Sound and continued its way northward. Unfortunately it was way too far away for a photo, but to give you an idea, I've borrowed one from Wikipedia to help set the scene.

So here I am seawatching and sheltering from the NW wind......

And this is almost exactly the image I was seeing through my scope a few minutes later......

Now I must confess that it was a little further away than this, but only a little.. OK quite a bit. Anyway, to keep spirits high in the face of  more less-than-useless Westerly winds, an unusual arrival was found today in the form of a male Southern Hawker dragonfly. This beauty is a bit of a rarity on the islands and is still reasonably local this far north. It was also very posy, unusual for a dragonfly...

Southern Hawker, looking confused as to his whereabouts

And that's all for now. Looking to next weekend, we are due more easterlies and with that hopefully more lovely birds. Until next time, here is a little puzzle. Spot the Willow Warbler.

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