Friday, 26 March 2010

Gannets and Terns

I’m sitting in my conservatory, the door open and the sound of the Skylark resounding in the air: a real signal to what is to come. Yesterday I had reports of Sand Martins over toward Elgin and so I was prepared for the other Spring visitors will be making their way here.

That said I have just got back from the car park at the Nairn Golf Course where I spotted my first Gannets and Terns of the spring. Now, this may sound sad to some people, but I was really excited! I was admiring two enormous Greater Black Back Gulls sitting preening on the beach when I noticed a solitary Gannet in the distance. Aiming my binoculars toward it I then saw a long trail of Gannets heading East to West low over the water. Probably 40 in total. As if this wasn’t enough, two Terns flew through my vision and dived deep in search of food. They were pretty quick and I needed to grab my scope and find them again to try to identify which species of Tern: but to no avail. All I can say is they were small, had black bills and a short tail. I’d love to say they were something really exotic, but I assume they are the regulars returning.

With my excitement levels heightened I scanned the sea for other interesting beings and found 13 Long Tailed Ducks very close to shore (not uncommon here, and fairly regular over winter) and just next to the resident Eiders (15 of them). Then much further out were 20 auk like birds, black upper parts (including head) and white underneath. I did not have my scope on the tripod, so really struggled to pick them – so I have emailed friends for help!

The beach had our old friends the Oyster Catchers, Turnstones and Carrions / Hooded Crows, who can always be relied on to give the resident bird watcher at least something to get excited about. But today they paled slightly into the background as I followed the Gannets and Terns and clumsily turned pages of my books to try to identify the other rarer visitors.

More tomorrow!


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