Back in the game

Viðareiði today - one of those days where if felt like the sun forgot to rise

Gulling is not something that should be done during weekends. The gulls are attracted to the fish factories waste and when they are closed there is no waste – and the gulls depart. So the number of Iceland Gulls had seriously declined during the weekend. But as the fish factories opened again this morning the birds gradually came back.

It is one of these days here on the Faroes where I wonder if the sun forgot to rise. The snow has melted form the vallies. So when it is really clouded and rainy like today it feels like twilight during all the light hours.

Pale 4. winter Kumlien's Gull


They are more striking in flight

But then it is good that the white gulls can spread some light in these dark times. From the kitchen I counted about 20 white-wingers and eventually I went out for two hours. First I checked Hvannasund. To my surprise the number of Iceland Gulls had increased to 39 birds including at least 6 Kumlien’s Gulls. The reason why I say “at least” is the fact that so far Rockmund and I have only counted obvious Kumlien’s Gulls as Kumlien’s Gulls. But it turns out that quite a few birds are in fact very pale Kumlien’s Gulls. But it takes a lot of good photos and observations to be sure whether it is an Iceland Gull or a pale Kumlien’s Gull. So when you’re watching 30, 50 or up to 100 Iceland Gulls at the same time it is very hard to pay a whole lot of attention to the pale birds that do not really stand out as Kumlien’s Gulls.

Well, a heavy 2. winter bird with dark iris and ghostly colours on the tail. It really feels kumlienish, but there are no markings on the primaries.

But today I tried to pay a little more attention to the pale birds. And in Hvannasund at least 6 out of 39 were in fact Kumlien’s Gulls with some kind of ghostly pattern on the primaries.

Very obvious Kumlien's Gull - the primaries are strikingly dark

After spending a good deal of time with the gulls in Hvannasund I went to Viðareiði. The Bean Goose was still present and my first Redwing of the year was foraging there.

A pale 2. winter that showed ghostly patterns on the primaries - thus a Kumlien's Gull

I then went back to Klaksvík where I counted 57 Iceland Gulls and 5 were identified as Kumlien’s Gull but more than half the birds were to far away to be properly checked for Kumlien’s Gull.

Another slightly more obvious 2. winter Kumlien's Gull


Traces of dark tail, rather dark iris - again a bird the really feels kumlienish, but without markings on the primaries

A very pale Kumlien's Gull - note the ghostly patterns on the primaries and dark tail


A 2. winter Kumlien's Gull with barely visible markings on the primaries

But after a slow weekend it looks like we’re back in the game…





5 comments on “Back in the game

  1. Chatterbirds says:

    White-wing gulls are such classic winter birds. They always remind me of those sort of dim winter days you describe in this post.

  2. Martin G says:

    Where are all the 1st winters? They seem uncommonly scarce in this influx in the Northern Isles, though plenty of every other age-class. Is this your situation too Silas??

  3. birdingfaroes says:

    Hi Martin

    I wanted to comment on that, but I forgot. Today was actually the first day with several first winter birds around (10-15 birds). Otherwise there have been only a few here. About 50 % have been 2. winter birds, 10 % have been 3. winter 30 % have been 4. or adults while only about 5-10 % have been first winters.

    I guess that the Iceland Gulls had a good breeding season in the summer of 2010, while it was worse in 2011 – and thus we’re receiving far less first winters than second winters…


  4. Hugh Harrop says:

    Silas – your explanation for the lack of 1st winters certainly seems logical.

  5. Martin G says:

    Hi Silas, sure that sounds spot on! Also our 2nd winters must have had premium survival rates since birth and maybe were part of a bumper breeding season somewhere in the arctic. That dark Herring Gull looks like it has good potential for American…what a bill!!! What’s next?? you guys must be knackered!!

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