June 10th   Leave a comment

I went out to the May Island again today. This time too late for the icterine warblers and red-backed shrike of the end of last week, but in plenty of time for more seabirds. The puffins were very busy feeding chicks, coming in with beaks full of sandeels. The herring gulls and lesser black-backed gulls were busy patrolling trying to intercept them. Not with any great success I think. I watched about 20 chases without seeing anything other than the puffin outflying the gull. When a puffin does reach its burrow it’s like a magic trick. They land, hunch up and then disappear. I wouldn’t hang around either with so many gulls about. Occasionally you see a puffin landing and pausing. They then shuffle about a bit before going down a burrow. I’m sure these have forgotten exactly where their burrow is and need a bit of time to select the right one. Even so I bet one or two chicks get fed by mistake.

Isle of May stars: puffins, razorbill, arctic tern and more puffins (WC)

The highlight was a roseate tern up at the old lighthouse. It was flying around, looking gorgeously white with the just a hint of pink on its breast. They remind me of tropicbirds in shape – their tail looks very thin and streamer like, their wings relatively short for a tern and their bill seems very long. I had some of my best views ever of a roseate as it flew directly above me and I noticed that because the trailing edge of the primaries is white and the outer primaries black (this is reversed in arctic terns), the wing tips appear especially thin as the paler trailing edge gets bleached out against the sky. It adds to their distinctive shape. The roseate tern was courting a common tern: it needs a proper mate though so they can resume breeding on the May again.

Posted June 10, 2019 by wildcrail in Sightings

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