Tuesday, November 29, 2011

The last few days have brought appalling weather to the island. Despite this many latest dates have been broken. The Sabine's Gull on Tuesday was pushed from it's podium of 'latest Sab's Gull' by a rather confiding juvenile which spent the afternoon feeding on the sea only metres from the shore. Two Pomarine Skuas on the 27th November beat the only other previous November record which occurred on the 1st in 1994. With 50mph gusts today and horizontal rain, it never crossed our minds that the highlight would be a diminutive warbler. But the third Pallas's Warbler of the year appeared in the Obs garden and fed happily on insects amongst the sheltered nettles and trees. This also takes gold place as the latest Pallas's Warbler on Bardsey, beating last years record of the 19th of November by ten days.

This little gem flitted around the lower vegetation in the Obs garden with little concern for the hideous weather above it. A true gymnast, it hovered under nettles, gracefully gleaning them of sheltering insects. You would be forgiven for thinking that it was a Hummingbird Hawkmoth as it hovered for long periods flashing its sulphur yellow rump. (c) Richard Brown

Sabine's Gulls are a species of the high Arctic with an almost circumpolar distribution. They are a long distance migrant wintering in the Southern Oceans. The gull was first discovered by Joseph Sabine who named it after his famous brother General Sir Edward Sabine. They first encountered the gull on an expedition in search of the infamous North-West Passage. The expedition was led by John Ross, the uncle of James Clark Ross who gives his name to another fantastic Arctic Gull, Ross's Gull. (c) Richard Brown

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