June 28th   Leave a comment

Eider ducklings are still to be seen in Roome Bay. Some nearly full grown and others quite small. They seem to have hatched less synchronously this year. I picked up a little raft of ducklings and females through my telescope while I was watching puffins far out a few days ago. They were making their way bravely over to Crail from the May Island. I could see the adults and just make out the tiny black dots that must have been chicks making their slow progress towards the shore. It’s an epic journey that must take them all day. They can’t manage more than a mile an hour, but if the wind and tide are against them, or the sea gets rough it must be slower still. Roome Bay must seem like such a haven when they eventually get there.

Eider ducklings

Eider ducklings

I was in the highlands on Thursday and there are still lots of black-headed and common gulls up there breeding on the inland lochs and rivers. But more and more are arriving in Crail each day for the winter now. Some of the black-headed gulls still have their fine summer plumage (a brown rather than a black hood – if it truly has a black hood then it’s a Mediterranean gull or a little gull) but they will lose that soon. The juveniles take a little longer to get here than the adults. They don’t have anywhere specific to go to and spend time initially checking out the area where they were born for when they return to breed nearby in two years’ time and then moving to the shore and exploring a bit to find somewhere good to winter. The best cue a young gull can use to locate a good wintering site is probably the presence of adults. There will be a trade-off between finding brand new sites that an individual might have to themselves, but then might not be any good later in the winter, or joining lots of other gulls at what is clearly a good site, but with lots of competition to contend with.

Black-headed gull still in full breeding plumage

Black-headed gull still in full breeding plumage

Posted June 28, 2014 by wildcrail in Sightings

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