Friday, 5 March 2010

The Lesser Blackback return

One of the most obvious aspects of migration in these parts is the annual return of Lesser Blackbacks, commencing in numbers in late Feb and rapidly increasing into March. As per last post, our wintering bird "Lucy" (above), was joined at Seton by a second adult on the last day of the winter atlas period. 1 March dawned with glorious conditions and a complete change in the weather, and I saw two more adults on the way to work, in Edinburgh at Danderhall and in Gilmerton. A report on the vismig group of 200 high N over NE Penines on morning of 2 March showed that many more were on their way and by the end of the wk a pair together at Danderhall and the first back on the "breeding grounds" at King's Buildings, with others along Liberton Road and Gilmerton Road.

Of course, further south in the UK/Eire this species is present year-round and apart from vismig observations the return may be harder to discern. Colour-rings can help, used to establish that the first returning adult in the Guernsey colonies arrived back this year on 15 January. It is said that good colour-ring readers are routinely reporting over 100 readings per day in locations in SW Britain where many birds are ringed (see entry for 15 December on the pembsbirds blog) - if only we could get some more of these in Lothian!

A final snap below of Lucy with some of her rather larger friends in Seton harbour, and right pictured well offshore with Eider, flying, which she had been attending on the sea in early February. My suspicion is that Lucy herself breeds somewhere well NW of here, perhaps the Faroes or Iceland, and she herself may soon be on her way, though she did linger as late as May when she was aged as a 2nd-summer, final sighting on 6 May 2007.

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