Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Bird movements

The other night Jeremy and I had to go down to the North Horn to check that a key that we had been given fitted. The sun was setting and we took advantage of being in an elevated position to watch the sun going down and see what birds might be coming over to the island to spend the night. On the isle of may we are always looking at birds moving about, it can look a bit random (them not us) but birds always move from place to place with a reason. So some are on migration heading north or south depending on the season, others only pass the island once a year, Some travel to the island to breed for the summer and then head away and some just spend the night on the island as it is safe from many predators.

Half an hour just watching revealed a lot of moving birds. As the sun dropped down behind Fife making it look almost beautiful parties of curlew and knots came speeding in low over the water having spend the day feeding along the mainland. The knot are working their way south while the curlew are mooching around while the moult their feathers. Shags and cormorants rumbled in to spend the night together on a rocky point. A black-headed gull, a rare sight here, flew down the island going south. But what was most striking was the herring gulls coming onto the island for the night. The first few parties came in in groups of 20 to 30 and then they started to pour in. When I looked up I could see a steady stream of them all the way back to Fife. Having been feeding all day and now replete on earthworms, landfill rubbish and chips they gained height over the mainland and then taking advantage of the wind in their faces to maintain lift they just soared downhill to the island. We stared counting and in half an hour reached 1000 and when we left in the gloom there were still birds drifting in. An insight into the bird movements of the island and a spectacular sight from one of our commoner birds.

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