Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Kettleness and the unloved

Where's a hungry Peregrine when you need one?

Mid-seawatch and on two interesting slightlybiggerthandots going west way out, when I had that feeling, that "I'm not alone" feeling. Still concentrating on the dots, as they were interesting, but this is a feeling I do not like. I knew the uninvited company was not human, it was possibly of the rodent clan and it was close. In the end I can stand it no more and look about me. A scruffy creep of an avian scavenger subsequently attempted to, perch on my shoulder, eat my boots and then walk into my rucksack - presumably in search of biscuit, not soup (problems with Thermos lid etc). It took some dissuasion and one curtain call before I slung a large chunk of Kettleness in its general direction and it took the hint.

Now, those dots, were a problem. Usually failed id is between species of divers, terns or skuas but in this case family was a bit of an issue - my first and strongest thought was that there were two different species involved, the front bird being one of the smaller grebes - Podiceps sp. The rear bird being an auk, probably a Razorbill. But the size thing doesn't work for this idea methinks as the auk should dwarf the grebe (at least in body mass), and although it looked larger, not much larger, and I think the size difference was a product of the rear bird being black (thus Razorbill). This wasn't working out. What about a quacker - Velvet Scoter perhaps seems possible. This now might add up as Velvs do often look weird (for some reason) - especilly at range in bright light. There was certainly white in the wing of the front bird, maybe in the rear one. The white in the wing maybe made the wing look very slim on the front bird (and slim enough for an auk in the second), thus exaggerating the neck length and fineness in proportion to the rest of it. The differences between the two birds being gender or age (female or juvvy at the front adult drake to the rear). So the conclusion, I guess I like the Velvet Scoter theory but I'm unsure.

All this enlivened a rather drab seawatch, especially compared to yesterday. Best were a very smart pale phase Arctic Skua that passed west; a bit of a Curlew thing going on which finally included a Barwit tacked to the tail of a distant singleton; an adult LB-bG (uncommon here). The tern thing was happening on a smaller scale with about 40 Arctics and that was that. Swallows appeared to be on the move with 8 east and out and another 40 or so buzzing around the cliffs.

A quick look at the cliff found two fluffy Fulmars with another site that might hold a third. The Herring Gull chicks are now flying (in a fashion).

Dropped in to Scaling on the way home where the Woodpigeon I have unfairly maligned; I saw several sticks taken to the nest. Most time was taken speaking to another birder (a rarity in itself for Scaling) - methinks my id here is correct and this was someone well-known - and very friendly and informative about local bits and bats.

No comments: