Sunday, October 23, 2011

Although conditions were perfect for an attraction last night, there was one thing missing. Birds. We set the alarm three times during the night to check the beams and the base of the tower, but only five Redwings and a Storm Petrel were on the move. The Stormy grounded and was trapped and roosted to keep it safe. As tonight draws closer it seems likely that few birds will again be present at the tower; we certainly wouldn't attempt to set off migrating in weather like this.

The approachable Arctic Skua again visited Henllwyn. In 1701 the ornithologist Brand commented: "There is a fowl called the Scutiallan, of a black colour and as big as Wild Duck, which doth live upon the vomit and excrements of other fowls whom they pursue and having apprehended them, they cause them to vomit up what meat they have lately taken, not yet digested". (c) Richard Brown

This harbinger of stormy weather is straightforward to age, the white fringes to the coverts showing this to be a bird of the year. Commonly referred to as Mother Carey's Chickens, they were thought by some sailors to be the souls of dead seamen. Mother Carey was Davy Jones' wife and personifies the threatening sea; she was thought by some to be responsible for the storms that wrecked ships but her call for old sailors to return to the sea was irresistible. We're hoping for a Mother Carey's Goose next (Giant Petrel). (c) Richard Brown

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