Thursday, 6 September 2012

Winter sun-seekers.

The last couple of days in has become very noticeable that the gulls are quietening down. Yesterday when I was down at Kirkhaven waiting for a visitor boat  it was beautifully tranquil mainly because the gulls have gone elsewhere. The majority of gulls that breed on the island are the herring and lesser black-backed species and though they look similar and are very closely related they have very different life strategies. There are herring gulls on the island all year round and now they have stopped breeding they are often away from the island during the day seeking food at sea on on the mainland. But in the evening they pour back to the rocky fringes to roost kicking up a huge racket after sunset as they settle down for the night. The lesser black-backed has a very different winter strategy of heading south to the southern French cost and to Portugal. All very nice, especially after the summer we have had. But in the last 20 years or so more and more lesser black backs have been spending the winter in Scotland. At the moment this is still on a few hundred but it is yet another sign that the climate is changing and birds are trying to adapt as best they can to these changes, even if it means forgoing a winter trip to southern Europe.  So as I sat down the jetty 8 was all I could count, it will be interesting to see as we head towards winter if these will stay right the way through.

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