Saturday 14 December 2013

Pre-Christmas twitch

As I have said before I don't usually twitch birds especially if they aren't on my patch however with the end of the year approaching and not having been out very much birding recently I accepted the offer of a lift from Barrie and Linda to go and see a very special bird.

The last time this species was seen in Orkney was in Kirkwall Bay between the 29 April and the 6th May 1949!!

Earlier in the week a dead male Sperm Whale was washed up onto the beach at Evie on West Mainland. Carcasses of dead cetaceans are known for attracting gulls and after last year's bonanza over near Marwick of Iceland Gulls feeding on a washed up carcass there was hope that some more white gulls would appear and feed on this one.

Sperm Whale carcass

Then on Thursday the word went out that a white gull had been found by local birder Dafi. However what he found wasn't an Iceland Gull this was something a bit more rarer, he had found an Ivory Gull.

This species is normally found in the high Arctic although the odd one or two turn up in the UK on an annual basis.

About the same size as a Common Gull it has a plumper body, broader wings with a longer tail and short black legs. According to my bird book adult birds are all white and first year birds have distinctive black finely spotted plumage and a black spotted face. This bird was generating some discussion between those that had gone to see it as it was inbetween the two plumages.

This bird had black tips to its wings but didn't have a lot of the black spotting on the rest of its wings but it did have black spotting around the base of the bill.

Ivory Gull
Ivory Gull
Thanks to Barrie and Linda for inviting me along and hpefully it won't be another 64 years before another one is seen in Orkney.

More photos to follow.

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