Tuesday 20 January 2015


Winter always brings its rewards, the weather might not be great but you do get some unusual birds. Gulls might not be everyone's cup of tea as they are difficult to identify and age. Its good to see Gulls at the coast rather than on a rubbish tip or coming to roost on a lake.

                                                                                       Common Gulls
In Lerwick the Shetland catch is always going to be the best place to look for Gulls. Many years ago in June it was an unusual sight to see around 50 Fulmar feeding on a bright red patch of blood and fish bits in the bay which is pumped into the sea by the Salmon processing plant

                                                                                            Herring Gull
Not seen this since being in Shetland but the numbers of gulls visiting the area has been reasonably high.  Sometimes a large number of gulls are over on Bressay but any hint of food a numbers start increasing. A good way of attracting the birds is the throw bread, a cheap loaf from Tesco does the job.

                                                                                         Black Headed Gull

At this time of year white wing gulls are present, since visiting the catch from Mid December I have seen Iceland and Glaucous Gulls on all occasions and a Kumlien's gull on just one visit. In Shetland at the moment there may be approx 8 Glaucous and 5 Iceland along with 2 to 3 Kumlien's Gulls. This year it seems to be good for these white winged gulls throughout Scotland and an Ivory gull has been present in western Scotland near Oban for several day.

                                                                                     Above Glaucous Gull

                                                                                         Above Iceland gull

Last year around this time more that 20 Iceland gulls and several Kumlien's gulls were present in Shetland, what a sight that must have been.

Glaucous gulls have bred in Shetland, one paired up with a Herring gull to produce young over a couple of seasons the only place breeding has occurred in the UK. This gull is large and more aggressive looking than the Iceland gull. The bill is mostly pink, also heavier and dark at the base than the Iceland.

                                                                                                    Glaucous Gull

Most birds in Shetland are thought to come from Iceland Spitsbergen or perhaps Greenland , but birds may also come from Russia. Most birds are juvenile which have creamy to dark brown plumage.

                                                                                                 Glaucous gull

Iceland gulls are smaller than the Glaucous, although some larger ones approach Herring gull in size. Plumage is identical to Glaucous Gull, flight is more elegant as well and often picks food up from surface. As its name suggests most come from Iceland and Canada

                                                                                                   Iceland Gull

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