Monday, 31 December 2012

December 2012

November's quiet end continued well into December; birding was particularly quiet with the same set of birds from Pennington and Needs Ore evidently still in situ. A total of 15 Waxwings dropped in for a few days just round the corner from where I live in Hedge End, a drake Red-crested Pochard was at Blashford Lakes, an adult Bewick's Swan at Harbridge and another Glossy Ibis had joined the resident Great-white Egret on the flood at Bickerley Common on 8th where it remained throughout the rest of the month.
I was only tempted out of Hampshire once; for an adult drake Falcated Duck of unknown origin at Farmoor Reservoir (Oxon) late on the 9th. It nonetheless provoked the usual speculation; is it or isnt it a wild bird, do Falcated Ducks naturally occur in Britain etc etc but once again we'll never know. The bird itself was unringed and fully winged and its arrival coincided with a mass arrival of dabbling ducks from the continent, it associated with a large flock of Mallard (perhaps not ideal, depends which way you look at it) but it was noticeably wary. It remained at Farmoor on and off for the rest of the week before it disappeared and hasn't been relocated so far this winter. A chilly walk around the north Basin also produced three Scaup and a Slavonian Grebe.
And now as the year comes to a close, it is always nice to reflect on the year as a whole and the many highlights it contained. I won't bore everyone with more monthly summaries but my personal highlight of the year was our university trip to Romania where we were bluff charged by a Brown Bear. And I must say I've never shit myself so much nor experience such an adrenaline rush! I also notched up a number of new birds in Romania and later Greece, but more pleasing were the 16 new species I saw in Britain and Ireland including one or two species that I expected to wait another 20-odd years for; Cream-coloured Courser and Belted Kingfisher. And then there were those that were simply out the blue: like Hartlepool's Western Orphean Warbler, though unfortunately many of the other major birds of 2012 didn't stick around long enough to be twitched (Black Skimmer, Magnolia Warbler, and Eastern Kingbird). In addition to the lifers were a few potential arm chair ticks that may or may not make the grade at some point in the future and a handful of decent county ticks which are always greatfully received when I still spend a large proportion of the year at university in Cumbria.
2013 is looking just as promising with a short spell in the Cairngorms early on to film Ptarmigan and Mountain Hares in their harsh winter environments. Then 10 days in Israel towards the end of March with Dan Pointon, Josh Jones and Will Soar; a trip I am very much looking forward too. I will hopefully be graduating with a first followed by a holiday somewhere in the Mediterranean (yet to be confirmed) with Emma in July to soak up some sun. Then finally kicking off the autumn with some seawatching in Ireland in August and rarity hunting in Shetland in October with Dan Houghton and Lee Fuller.

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

November 2012

With Waxwings arriving in off the North Sea, it didn't take long before the first few turned up in Carlisle just up the road from me. These were the first I had seen all year, but were particularly mobile as I followed them around the Kingstown Industrial Estate on the 1st of the month.

Later that day I headed up to Solway to scan the wintering Barnacles and Golden Plover flocks where respective vagrant Canada Geese and American counterparts had previously been seen. Unfortunately the flocks were too distant at low tide for closer scrutiny but the Great-white Egret was still frequenting the saltmarsh pool at Campfield Marsh and the two regular leucistic Barnacle Geese could easily be picked out at range.
Another visit the next day and a similar story; the geese were even further away, the Great-white Egret was still in situ but the Golden Plover were just about within range to sift through. I estimated the flock to be between 2000-3000 strong, possibly more so it took a good couple of hours before I eventually managed to pick out the more advanced American Golden Plover in Moricombe Bay. This bird is still moulting into winter plumage with a reasonable amount of black still on the breast and belly making it much easier to pick out. Though I think I'll be revisiting next week in the hope the flocks return to the sheep fields by Cardurnock and show considerably better; and maybe I'll be able to pick out the other...
Over the weekend, I once again went east with Tristan and Peter. First stop was Seaburn to call into an unseasonal visitor; a juvenile Bee-eater. A bird you certainly wouldn't expect to see in November with frost on the ground and 2 Waxwings trilling over the top; it was quite a peculiar sight. But still the Bee-eater performed well for us, sitting on aerials and flying low overhead to catch a surprisingly good number of wasps to feed on (though I hope it departs to the south soon, back to the continent and doesn't succumb to an unfortunate fate like others, that have arrived so late in the year).
It was quite a leisurely afternoon really, we had lunch at Whitburn followed by a stroll around the ringing plantation. Peter had a Yellow-brow whilst Tristan and I saw very little besides an adult winter Mediterranean Gull up the road. The late afternoon was spent a little further inland at Houghton-Le-Spring. Visibility was poor as the place was shrouded in thick fog but we still spent an hour or so here searching for a Little Bunting. The bird had apparently been frequenting a hawthorn hedge backing onto a sewage works, but was typically elusive and disappeared for hours at a time. Luckily I stumbled upon the bird feeding in long grass just off the beaten track, it continued to feed and approached the small gathered crowd to within 15 feet before flying up into the hedge and lost to view in the fog, 'tick'-ing as it went. It was only the second Little Bunting I have seen and gave much more prolonged and satisfying views than the first.
From this time of the month onwards the weather deteriorated; heavily overcast and rain became an almost constant fixture so another trip up onto the Solway unfortunately didn't materialise before I headed off to the Isle of Mull with Cain Scrimgeour and Ewan Miles to begin filming for my final media project. Again the weather was less than ideal but wind remained calm which meant I could continue filming; the trip was a general success with most the target species to film ticked off including Otter, where we found no fewer than 6 individuals over three days but only 3 allowed us to stalk them to get good footage. Other highlights included a brief Aurora encounter, White-tailed Eagles and a family of Golden Eagles - the juvenile watched reasonably close hunting rabbits was incredible! I also found a Firecrest in the Tobermory car park - it was literally the first bird I clapped eyes on on the island so I was abit blasé when pointing it out to the others. Turns out though its a first for Mull!! We also found a few small groups of Waxwing on the island. I shall add some footage to due course.

Returning to Cumbria from Mull on the 16th, I then headed back south to Hampshire on the 17th with a few detours not far off the motorway to include various birds. First stop was at dawn for the currently resident Lesser Yellowlegs (and Wood Sandpiper) at Aldcliffe Marsh, Lancashire. Nice views in terrible weather, but this is by far the latest Wood Sandpiper I've ever seen in Britain. Next stop was Middleton Lakes in Staffordshire for a 1w White-rumped Sandpiper; the weather had slightly improved but this bird was mostly mobile and distant so again no (respectable) photos. Rather embarrassingly though, this was only my second White-rumped Sand in Britain! Leaving here much later than expected I then had to put my foot down to get to Pagham Harbour (West Sussex) before the light began to go. I must admit I had been playing the Hooded Merganser quite cool having not twitched it from Carlisle - I simply couldn't justify it and then leaving it till last thing on the 17th was perhaps too cool as on arrival there was no sign. Frustratingly it hadn't been seen all afternoon but I began scanning the harbour before over hearing a conversation that the bird had been seen in the NW corner of the harbour. I dashed over there and scanned to no prevail and by now the sun was pretty low in the sky.

About to cut my losses I received an anonymous call to which I wasn't going to answer but luckily did, it was Dave Wallace and he was watching the Merg back by the sluice gates on the North Wall!! I dashed over there as quick as I could - indeed I ran for it and even then only watched it amongst Wigeon for a matter of minutes, diving occasionally before taking off on its own. I watched it in my scope till it was literally a speck in the sky heading in a NW direction - it hasn't been seen since! Judging by the limited white in the wings this bird is probably a first-winter, and also a female by the rather dull eye colour. Males tend to have a pale iris. I'm also quite optimistic about this bird, it appears to have turned up at a decent time of year, fully winged, unringed etc, so hopefully the BBRC will have no problem accepting this bird knowing they've got form for doing so already.
Still playing catch-up in Hampshire I was then down Calshot spit (Hampshire) shortly after first light on the 18th for a long-awaited grounded Richard's Pipit in the county. Nearly all are flyovers from the Pennington/Keyhaven area and Barton-on-sea during the autumn. Surprisingly this bird showed well commuting between the SE corner of the power station and the dog walkers field near the beach huts, before settling at the latter. Later in the morning it was reported to have flown out over The Solent and subsequently hasn't been seen since. A Black-necked Grebe was feeding offshore. The remainder of the month was rather quiet on the birding front where birding was confined to the marshes (Pennington and Needs Ore) with nothing out the ordinary to report besides a Black-throated Diver from the former on the 25th and a Firecrest from the latter on 27th.

Monday, 8 October 2012

October 2012

Since the turn of the month I have moved back up to Carlisle for my final year of University, so I don't intend being back in Hampshire till the christmas break now. Being based in Carlisle during the autumn period is usually quite rewarding putting me in a prime position for twitching any of the Northern or Western Isles. So with this in mind when news of a Swainson's Thrush broke on Barra (Outer Hebrides) I was initially enthusiastic to go. But after speaking to various mates I decided not to go since the species is almost annual nowadays. The following day the bird was still there and apparently showing well, but I had a lecture that I didn't want to miss so the answer was still no. The next thing I know that lecture had been cancelled and I've got five days spare!

At that point I simply decided I wanted to go to fill up my time despite getting the feeling that it was going to be an unsuccessful trip. We left during the early hours of the 4th and caught the ferry from Oban to Castlebay - via Coll and Tiree. The highlights were about a dozen Harbour Porpoise, Black Guillemots and two amazing adult White-tailed Eagles fishing successfully in the Sound of Mull. Though we still had no news of whether the Swainson's was actually still there...

On arrival at 15:00 we dashed to the Northbay Hotel, only to be greeted with a letter addressed to us that the bird had relocated. Interestingly 3 miles to the south to Brevig (coincidentally the 2010 Hermit Thrush did a similar thing), so off we went to Brevig. Once there we found out the Swainson's had only been seen for a matter of seconds in the early afternoon and not again since. Our hearts sunk, this was probably the most vegetated place on the island and knowing how skulky these birds can be; knew it would take something special for us to see it!

Our luck was really in with this one when a ringer then appeared pointing to a bag in his other hand. He had only gone and caught the Swainson's Thrush in a mist net running through one of the adjacent gardens and therefore treated us to close-up in hand views!! After being processed it was released into another sparcely vegetated garden where it simply skulked, before flying to another bush and remained mostly out of view until we left. Meanwhile two Golden Eagles soared overhead. The Swainson's had a fat score of zero so the outcome of this bird is anybodies guess.
We spent the night on South Uist, ready to depart from Lochmaddy (North Uist) at midday; the highlights were a couple of Black-throated Divers in the Sound of Barra, Common Redpoll in a garden at Bornish, and an eclipse drake American Wigeon on Loch Bee with 20+ Greenland White-fronted Geese. Two more adult White-tailed Eagles also flew past us in Lochmaddy with yet another in Uig (Isle of Skye). Big news of the day concerned the remarkable news of an Eastern Kingbird found on Inishmore (County Galway; Ireland), a first for the Western Palearctic that I simply had to go for!! Unfortunately I was probably in one of the worst places possible but still had an outside chance of getting there the following morning...

We drove non-stop for 10 hours to Holyhead where I teamed up with Fred Fearn, Pete Antrobus and John Gregory. The trip ran surprisingly smoothly; we caught the 02:30 ferry to Dublin and drove to Rossaveal (Co. Galway) in good time ready to catch our connecting ferry to Inishmore at 10:30. Unfortunately news had filtered out the Kingbird had gone. Gutted!! Then things got manic; a Belted Kingfisher was found near Letterfrack and a Myrtle Warbler on the same island the Kingbird was. I hadnt seen either, but knew immediately which bird I was prioritising. We dashed up to Letterfrack but had no idea where the Kingfisher actually was; no maps and no signal we just drove around aimlessly trying to locate likely places without success until one of us managed to get a signal and phoned Alan Lewis; who we knew was watching the bird!! Thankfully we were close and were there watching this amazing beast within five minutes! This was without doubt the best compensation I have ever had from dipping another bird, and I have always wanted to see one since missing the touring 2005 bird!
Logistically I couldn't make either of the Myrtle Warblers (by that time there was apparently two) on Inishmore so we went to Slyne Head to see what we could find. The answer was not alot so we headed back to Dublin for our ferry.

The week leading up to my birthday was pretty unproductive with casual local birding, and I spent my birthday (12th) marching back and forth on top a quarry in Durham trying to see a Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler. Another waste of time, but I did see a Locustella sp twice, once inflight, the second moving quickly through the low branches of a young pine but too quick to focus and get a decent view. One that got away; though it was good to see that things were on the move again with small numbers of winter thrushes arriving in off the sea.

So on the 13th I headed back East with Tristan and Chris to hit some of the regular sites in search of some migrants, first up was Newbiggin where we checked the bushes surrounding the Ash Lagoon. Nothing spectacular but good numbers of Goldcrests and Robin and the occasional Brambling passing overhead. A Paddyfield Warbler was then reported from St. Mary's Island just down the coast, so as Chris needed this for a British tick we immediately headed back to the car. On arrival the warbler was showing well as it sat out in the open sunning itself in willows around the dipping pond and I instantly took to the camera to grab some record shots, once I had a few I then had a proper look through the bins and realised instantly that the bird we were watching was not a Paddyfield! Initially I was stumped, the bird had quite a limited supercilium, no way near as prominent as Paddyfield, no rufous tones, seemed uniform brown all over, plain tertials and a short clustered primary projection. The bill was also spikey and so after a quick discussion we decided that all the features seemed to point towards a Blyth's Reed. We saw the bird again several times after once it had adopted a more typical behaviour; it became very skulky but showed its classic banana-like posture that it usually associated with the species. Unfortunately we did not hear it call.
The same bushes also held a vocal Yellow-browed Warbler and just across the way was a Red-breasted Flycatcher and another Yellow-browed called (though this may have been the same bird). Once we had had our fill we continued down the coast to Tynemouth where there was again lots of common migrants (mainly the same mix of stuff we had seen at Newbiggin) with the addition of a Yellow-browed Warbler tagging onto the end of a large Tit flock moving around the car park.

Impressed with the day, I went back the next (14th) with Colin Lister but there had unfortunately been a total clear out with nothing really noteworthy seen, although a band of rain in off the North Sea about midday dropped a load of Goldcrests and Robins, but that was it for us. It must have deposited more though as there was a Pied Wheatear new in just up the coast at Holy Island and an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler in Fife. We didn't have time to see neither that day.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler was a bird I thought I'd eventually see on Portland so had been waiting for a close one for quite a few years. Fife Ness was only 2.5 hours away from me in Carlisle so I decided straight away that I'd head up for this bird in the morning (15th). It was an early start - meeting with Mick Frosdick and arriving at Fife Ness before dawn. There were migrants everywhere, prodominantly finches and thrushes; all of which on the move in the clear conditions. Two Yellow-browed Warblers were found around the car park whilst we waited for the sun to get high enough in the sky to light up the rose bushes behind the ruined toilet block. As soon as it had the Olivaceous began to 'tjack' and before long the bird was giving fantastic views. This was another educational bird; olive-grey upperparts, grey legs but the primary projection didn't seem all that short, neither long. White outer feathers to the tail that the bird frequently pumped downwards as it 'tjeck'ed regularly. The bill was long and pointed, yellow-orange lower mandible that was very wide at the base ruling out other similar species! Later that day I headed south back to Southampton to work for a week.
Thankfully nothing good broke that week whilst I was busy till the weekend when a Siberian Stonechat was at Birling Gap (East Sussex). I went Sunday 21st with Lee Fuller, we instantly connected with the bird from the car as we drove past. The bird was chased back and forth along the road but the best line of attack was to just sit in your car with the windows down and wait for it to come your way. In the end I drove right up to it and we papped the first winter male from the car; for a bird I always thought was quite a dross species, I must admit I was pleasantly surprised and it exceeded expectations by far, this was a stunner of a bird. Another stunner was the juvenile Sabine's Gull we saw on the way home along Brighton Promenade that literally walked between residents and flew low over peoples heads. Absolutely incredible! The final highlight of the day was the regular french ringed Great-white Egret back along the Avon Valley (Hampshire) at Bickerley Common on the flood.
BOOM!! The head gasket went on my car on the way home...and I was stranded down in Southampton for a few more days whilst it was fixed. It couldn't have happened at a worse time. I had absolutely no way of getting up to Uni for my lecture and assignment hand-in and no way of getting to Shetland for Britains second ever Chestnut-eared Bunting and was left pocketless. Oh well...theres been two now...and three in the WP since 2004 so I'll give it less than 10 years before the next...
Three days later I got my car back and headed straight to Portland (Dorset) to do some uni work. It just so happened there was an adult male Daurian Shrike there the day before. There were birds everywhere on Portland; again mostly a mixture of finches and thrushes but there was no sign of the Shrike during the morning but a Siberian Stonechat had been found up at Culverwell so off I went. But as it turned out I ended up seeing the Daurian Shrike before the Stonechat. Both of which mobile in the windy conditions so I only managed to obtain a few record shots with my phone. The Stonechat was noticeably different to the one I saw the weekend before. The light could easily change the colour of this and although pale in its overall appearance the underparts were strikingly bright and the rump cleanly unmarked but again peachier in colour. It has since been suggested this bird may be of the form 'stejnegeri', and shortly after trapped and ringed so I'm sure its not the end we'll hear of this bird...
The final few days of the month were spent in Worcestershire with Emma and her family for their annual autumnal holiday.  I took a few detours enroute to take in the drake Lesser Scaup in Villice Bay, Chew Valley Lake and Long-billed Dowitcher at Slimbridge WWT which were nice. We also discovered something else sharing the house with us:

Thursday, 13 September 2012

September 2012

As expected the Nearctic waders began arriving with Buff-breasted & Pectoral Sandpipers etc and a Long-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor RSPB. However from a single heavily cropped record shot on the internet, Rich Bonser noticed the bird appeared to have barred tertials and alerted me late on the 3rd. I decided to get down to Lodmoor as soon as I could the next day (4th) to investigate further as it was potentially something much rarer. On arrival I immediately got a view of the bird inflight, it called once and then flew out of view. Frustratingly it wasn't seen again all day despite waiting several hours for it to appear - in which time I had to return to work. The call was a rapid-fire 'tut-tut', as opposed to the single high-pitched 'keek' a Long-billed Dowitcher would make; suggesting even more that this may well be a Short-billed Dowitcher!!

Later that evening better quality images were released onto the internet from birders who were there before me, it confirmed the bird was indeed a Short-billed. I needed a better view before I could say that I had properly seen it, so gave it another go before work on the 5th with Tom Jordan. Again the bird was very elusive and hadn't shown since first light, and I soon ran out of time and had to return to work. No sooner had I done so; when news filtered out that the bird was once again showing well. Even more frustrated; I cancelled all commitments on the 6th to make sure I was there way before dawn to give me the best chance of nailing the Dowitcher. I arrived at about 05:30 and waited for the sun to rise. As soon as it was light enough the Dowitcher was found and showing well at range losely associating with Snipe and a Green Sandpiper. All the subtle details could be seen including the very well marked barred tertials and coverts of this juvenile bird. The dark capped appearance was also very noticeable thanks to a bold supercilium. Images provided by Kelvin Pearce.
Following the news from late summer that at least 9 male Baillon's Crakes had been heard singing at various locations in South-east England, East Anglia and Anglesey; it was high on everybodies predictions that one of these adult birds or even a juvenile (if any bred successfully) would be found in the autumn when the birds disperse and begin to migrate South. Any followers of my blog will already know that Baillon's is my ultimate bogey bird - having travelled all over the place to see them! Another tip off from Rich Bonser before it hit the pagers allowed me to make preperations to get to Rainham Marshes before first light (8th) where I waited in the Shooting Butts Hide from 05:50 onwards. It wasn't even light before somebody else picked up a little pale blob at the base of the reeds directly infront of us. Good scope views were had as the light increased, but unfortunately mist rolled in and prevented any decent photos. The bird actively fed for 25 minutes, picking things off the surface as well as climbing up high into the reeds (sometimes 2ft above the water), the bird eventually wandered up a hidden channel and out of view for the rest of the day.
On the way home I went to Beddington Sewage Farm in search of a possible Aquatic Warbler that unfortunately was never relocated. The afternoon was spent in Dorset with Emma and her family and allowed me the opportunity to see a Monarch butterfly that has been regularly visiting Buddleia in the ornamental park of Easton, Portland. This American vagrant probably got caught up in the same weather system as the Dowitcher on its journey from Canada to Mexico. This individual can be sexed as male by the 'androconium'; a spot in the centre of it's hind wing - or so I am told.
Sunday 9th and Emma and I had planned a day out around Arundel (West Sussex), this also gave me the chance to literally pullover enroute to see a 1st winter male Red-footed Falcon at Chichester Gravel Pits. The bird showed extremely well in the sun, often successfully hunting Dragonflies and preening close to the main path. The image and short clip were both taken with my iphone. There is also a few mammal shots that I have taken recently.
Recently I have also been spending a reasonable amount of time in the field trying to find something good locally: mainly at Pennington/Keyhaven. Highlights have included a juvenile Pectoral Sandpiper (found by AL) on the Shoveler Pools with Dunlin and a single juv Little Stint, Garganey on the Balancing Pond, Little Gull and Black Tern on the Jetty and an early Merlin thru East. I also managed to miss a couple of local Wrynecks; a bird I usually see annually.
On the 19th I went back to Lodmoor RSPB with  Dan Houghton and Mark Rolfe for yet another look at the Short-billed Dowitcher; since the crowds have probably settled down a little and the bird appears to be a little more co-operative. Little did we know just how well the bird had been showing and so shortly after arrival we were treated to fantastic close views! This time I managed to grab a few decent record shots of my own... Birding else where around Lodmoor and Portland was relatively quiet and the only other notable bird of the day was an Osprey circling low over my home town; Hedge End.
 Late afternoon of the 23rd, the incredible news of a Magnolia Warbler on Fair Isle hit the pagers, this was only the second for Britain and the first in 31 years: the last stayed just 2 days on the Isles of Scilly. So, as far as I was concerned a once in a lifetime bird that I had to go for. Within a couple of hours plans were in place for a small group of us to drive up to Wick for the next morning and wait on news where a shuttle service MIGHT be available if the bad weather holds off long enough. Well to cut a long story short, the weather held off but the bird had gone, so we didn't end up on Fair Isle, neither had we parted with any major cash so only had to contend with a rather long journey home.

Elsewhere around the country things were certainly kicking off big time. Easterly winds had kicked in and scarce migrants were literally appearing everywhere! An unprecedented arrival of Pallas's Grasshopper Warblers also took place with three birds discovered on the mainland. Unfortunately all were too far away for me to reach that day so I just stayed local; I finally caught up with a Wryneck though. Throughout the day more good birds continued to turn up; Aquatic Warbler and American Buff-Bellied Pipit on the Scillies - both of which I had also never seen. I was then hit with the dilemma of heading North for the PGTips or South-west to Scillies. In the end I decided to go to Scillies as the chances of any PGTips sticking were highly unlikely.

There wasn't alot of interest for these two birds but I managed to team up with Kelvin Pearce. We got down to Marazion Marshes RSPB for first light where we saw two Spotted Crakes briefly - thanks to a Moorhen, before heading off to the Scillonian. The crossing was abit bumpy but not the worse we'd experienced. Two Bonxies and a dozen Storm Petrel were all we managed to see. Once on the island we dashed immediately up to Pennises Head where we both managed a seconds-long view of the Pipit before it took flight and seemed to fly right into the distance. Not good!! There was alot of movement with Pipits, Wheatears and Linnets coming and going all the time so it come as abit of surprise when I refound it 20 minutes later. The bird showed well and I was extremely pleased to have finally caught up with this species. Previous dip here.

Kelvin and I then got a lift with Spider to Porthloo Pond to try and find the Aquatic Warbler. Chances of us finding it here were literally zero but as we both needed it, gave it some time. A couple of other birders were also looking. One of the local birders decided to give up, mounted his moped and road off down the road only to stop 100 yards on because he'd seen a warbler resembling the Aquatic flying parallel with his ped that then dropped into the iris bed on the opposite side of the road. I then walked thru the iris bed and flushed an Acro; presumably the bird he'd seen. To be honest that bird looked like a Sedge Warbler but I persued it further only to flush another bird at close range. This bird was clearly the Aquatic, appearing daintier inflight, straw coloured with obvious bold streaks down the mantle and back. The Aquatic was seen again once or twice giving relatively prolonged flight views at close range before we lost it in dense vegetation, but were thoroughly pleased with what we had seen considering we expected to see nothing!

We still had time to spare so headed back to Hugh Town, an Ortolan Bunting had been seen on Porthcressa Beach that we tried to find. It didn't take much finding as this individual was ridiculously confiding. Literally hopping within two metres of us as it actively caught flies on the beach. The bird does have a gammy left eye (that apparently seems to be healing) and a few ruffled feathers which may have something to do with its tameness. A just-as-approachable Little Stint was also feeding on the same beach allowing more fantastic photo opportunities! The boat back to the mainland was relatively uninteresting besides 5 Fulmar and a Manx Shearwater.