Wednesday, 19 March 2014

A short trip to Scotland (Day Two - March 14th 2014)

Our aim this morning was to check the harbour out before breakfast, just on the off chance that the AMERICAN HERRING GULL would fly in. We were up at 05:45hrs and down by the harbour at 06:00hrs. The mist had cleared, and we could see far more than yesterday (like hills and mountains). 

Again we were entertained by the 40-50 Eider in the harbour, plus the Guillemots and Black Guillemots. The only other birder in town (Ewan - we'd met last night) arrived again and we exchanged phone numbers for later in the day. He also mentioned he'd seen the possible NORTHERN EIDER in the new harbour, but also said the beak wasn't right. With no sign of the AHG again, we drove round to see the Non-Northern Eider.

It was an easy task. All we had to do was find the Eider with the prominent fins and the normal beak, and that would be the Non-Northern Eider. As I sifted through the 40+ flock, I noticed quite a few of the males when they were displaying had small prominent fins. We soon gave up. CJW spotted the pre-breakfast bird of the day when four Rock Doves came on the jetty to feed. They came back later, with a Feral Pigeon amongst them. A single Greenland White-fronted Goose also flew over.

Eider in Campbeltown Harbour

Rock Dove

Campbeltown Harbour

Following our excellent breakfast at Redknowe Bed and Breakfast we set off for the AHG hunt. We checked the fields by the airport first, meeting up with Ewan again, the only other birder in town. We found a flock of 100+ large gulls plus several flocks of Greenland White-fronts, but no sign of the AHG. We drove back up to the main road to check out previous haunts, but again, there were no large gulls around. There appeared to be just the one flock in the area. 

We headed down to Southend to check out a different area. We even managed to do some birding from the beach, seeing Black-throated and Red-throated Divers, Black Guillemots, Gannets and Shag.  


Shots of Southend at the bottom of the peninsular.

We got back into the car and headed back up towards Campbeltown. CJW then checked his phone and found to his horror that he'd had a missed call from Ewan. He tried to ring him back but there was no signal. We hurtled back up towards the airfield, our hopes were rising. We were hoping that Ewan had found the AHG. Just as we could see the airfield, the signal was restored and CJW rang him back. He had indeed found something - a 2w Iceland Gull

Iceland Gull by the airfield.

We sat and thought about the situation. The wind was whipping up now and you had to hold onto your scope to stop it being blown over. We'd search the area and found no more gulls. It was now cold, and raining. We discussed staying until the evening again in case it returned to the harbour. The only problem was it would mean at 02:00hrs arrival back at home, and CJW had to be at work for 06:00hrs. We headed for the Snow Geese.

We headed north to Tayinloan  and checked all the geese in the area and down to the ferry. There was no sign. We headed north again and down to the holiday park but again nothing. Then as we headed even further up the road, CJW spotted two white blobs in a field with more Greenland White fronts.


Two Snow Geese near Rhunahaorine

With the drizzle turning to rain, and the mist coming down again, we decided to head for home. We thought that it would just be a repeat performance of last night. 

As we were driving home through the rush hour in Glasgow, a novice low listing photographer decided to tweet CJW and inform him that the AMERICAN HERRING GULL had returned to roost in the harbour. Not to worry, we've dipped before and we'll dip again. At least we've learnt birding etiquette though. 

Of course, there always has to be a song at the end. Now I'm feeling a lot better following my small session of body part altering, and the songs can return now that I'm fit enough to dance.