18th December

A reminder that we'll be hosting an In Focus field event at the Obs between 10 am and 4pm this Sunday, 20th December.

Pretty wild weather again today meant that it was the sea that got most attention at the Bill. As usual in a winter storm there was no shortage of routine fare - Gannets, Kittiwakes, large gulls, auks and the like - on offer, with 2 Red-throated Divers also through, a Great Skua lingered for a while and the best prize was an Iceland Gull that joined the melee during the afternoon; 2 Eider and a dozen Common Scoter were also still settled offshore.

There's always plenty to see during rough weather at the Bill - Guillemots & Razorbills, Kittiwake, Red-throated Diver and Cormorant:

The Iceland Gull was first spotted at long range from the Obs and once we got closer to the action at the Bill tip it was relatively easy to latch on to with binoculars but, because of the wind direction and shocking light, it was always rear end on and tricky to find through the camera viewfinder - it is in both these photos although we weren't actually sure of that when we pressed the shutter!...

...after a while it left the flock and powered away to the east and we'd assumed it was leaving for elsewhere...

...however, as we were walking back past the pumping station it suddenly appeared flying back down East Cliffs towards the Bill tip - if we'd have stayed put at the Obelisk we'd have scorched it up at point blank range but instead had yet more ropey rear end views of it! These photos do suggest there's more happening in the wing-tip than had been apparent at long range but it does look as though it's the inner web of each feather that's darker (=Iceland Gull rather than Kumlien's Gull) although we're not quite sure what's going on with the apparent little dark tips to the outer couple of primaries and the blotch of darkness midway through the primaries - maybe it's soiled there? © Martin Cade: