28th December 2020
What an afternoon off Morning Point with the highlight being this Great Skua that came in and terrorised the gulls at very close range. Unfortunately, I changed the camera setting by mistake as I fumbled getting it out of my bag that I had put in during a shower. And this was the best I got of the skua out of the 50 or so images that I took.
I had not been out since that incredible experience of kayaking meters away from the 2 Humpback Whale three days ago! One of the the whales has been indentified from last year as the Cornish individual that was also seen off Ireland. Maybe I had not been out but two days ago ‘Billy’ the Iceland Gull kept me entained by landing on the bird table with the Herring Gull with the broken leg that I hand feed. An hour later, a male Sparrowhawk was also on the bird table with a Starling pinned down. Storm Bella was in full force outside but it didn’t stop me from making my ways to Morning Point where I knew it would be more sheltered. A new Iceland Gull had to be on the cards with these NNW winds but when I arrived at the point, just before 13.00, there was just a handful of Herring Gull feeding off the outlet. I tossed a loaf out and sure enough, the gulls came in including 3 Common and 2 Mediterranean Gull. While keeping a close eye on the gulls, I had also been scanning out to sea since arriving ten minutes ago. I was hoping that maybe a Leaches Petrel or Great Skua might pass with the large numbers of Kittiwake and Gannet moving from east to west through the channel straight into Storm Bella. Suddenly, out of the blue from nowhere, a Great Skua dropped in, just off the rocks!! The 100 odd gulls had not switched on yet until it started to get aggressive towards 3 Herring Gulls on the water and forcing one to spit the grub out and pluck it off the water. By now every gull was in air and was goin crazy above me. The Bonxie didn’t hang around. It made a tight circle, flew past me at close range and out west in between Gugh and the Garrison. OK, I really wasn’t expecting that. There was also a movement of Lesser Black-backed Gull moving through and it wasn’t long until I picked a distant Great Skua fly through the channel with 2 Yellow-legged Gull. After that Great Skua performance directly in front of me, things couldn’t get any better? Could it?
I wasn’t quick enough with the camera to catch ‘Billy’ sitting on top of the bird table but it stuck around for while just in front of the window
I had only been at Morning Point for a little over ten minutes and this Great Skua caused havoc amonst the gulls before moving out north.
Shortly after, another Great Skua moved through the channel between Gugh and the Garrison.
With 2 Yellow-legged Gull also distant moving straight through
Including this adult, 2 Mediterranean Gull came in briefly
I lowed my bins down from eyes, after observing the second Great Skua disappearing out of sight, only to see a juvenile Glaucous Gull come in high around the corner from the Porthcressa direction! OK, I was kinda of expecting that one to happen. So maybe I won’t get my Iceland Gull but this will do. It soon settled down with the ever increasing number of Lesser Black-backed Gull and the third Yellow-legged Gull. It was full on and I had only been at the point for a little over twenty minutes! At about 14.25, the Glaucous Gull flew out north over land in the direction of my garden! It was over an hour later, a long ways out at sea, that I picked up a white-winger coming from the east. I kept on it and even though it was distant, with my bins I could see that it was a Glaucous Gull from the size comparrison of the Iceland Gull it was now flying with! OK, I really wasn’t expecting that one to happen. What is goin on? They were both nearly at the east point of Gugh when they changed direction and were now head on, coming towards me. Almost every gull moving through out there has continued west. There is no chance that these white-wingers are goin to come in and join the flock of 150 gulls off the outlet. It didn’t take long for them to arrive and juvenile Glaucous Gull touched down first with the main flock. While the adult Iceland Gull joined the 20 Lesser Black-backed Gull further out immediatly after. I had done it and found a new Iceland Gull. In fact, the juvenile that I had nearly a month ago off Tresco was the last new Iceland Gull recorded on Scilly. All we needed now was ‘Billy’ and the pale-headed Iceland Gull that would normally be here. They had spent all day at Porth Mellon/Loo area just across the road. Rob Lambert joined me late and got both the Glaucous and Iceland Gull that were still present and another 5 yellow-legged Gull moved through. Two of them venturing into Porthcressa Bay. The Iceland Gull flew out north while the Glaucous Gull stuck around.
I had only planned to be at the point for an hour and if anything, just taking pics of gulls in flight. However, with the activity goin on at sea with the large passage of Kittiwakes, Gannets, Lesser Black-backed and smaller numbers of Greater Black-backed Gull goin through, I had a vibe that it was goin to be a gooden and it payed off and Morning Point was on fire!
In the three hours of birding from Morning Point, totals included..
2 Great Skua, 2 Claucous, 1 Iceland, 8 Yellow-legged, 2 Meditanerrean, 3 Common, 300 Lesser and 80 Great Black-backed and 300 Herring Gull, 100 Gannet, 3 Guilimot, 250 Kittiwake and a single Great Northern Diver.
3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull
The Glaucous and Yellow-legged Gull were fighting over the scraps between each other
Lesser Black-backed Gull
The adult Iceland Gull arrived in off the sea together with the Glaucous Gull and spent all it’s time further out with the Lesser Black-backed Gulls before flying out north following the coast line of the Garrison
While the juvenile Glaucous Gull stuck around and was still present when I left
There were a total of 8 Yellow-legged Gull, including this adult, breaking the Scilly record of the five I had on Tresco two years ago.
The Spirt of Agnes arriving from St Mary’s batterling through Stoem Bella.