Monday, 17 December 2012

I'm dreaming of a white (Gyr) Christmas

Any birder living in Uist at the moment would be forgiven for thinking that Christmas had come early with all the reports of white-Gyr's during the last month. The first sighting came on 18th November when one was seen at Bornish, South Uist. This was followed by one that hung around for a couple of hours on the morning 1st December at Balranald, North Uist. Initially it was presumed to have been the Bornish bird although when one was found dead at Eoligarry, Barra the same day the situation became more tricky.

Gyr at Balranald, December 1st  (Brian Rabbitts)

 Next came a sighting of a bird perched at Ardivachar, South Uist, 3rd December and it looked like this bird was on its way south until there was a sighting at Balranald and Loch Paible, 11th December. Again it was presumed that the bird of the 11th was the same as the bird of 1st and 3rd December although thanks to digital photography it would appear that this was not the case. The photo below shows the bird from the 11th December that is renewing its inner primaries although the bird above (1st December) does not show the inner primary moult.

Gyr near Loch Paible, 11th December (John Kemp)
There was another sighting from Loch Paible, North Uist yesterday, 16th December and then one today from Kipheder, South Uist. From the superb photos by John Kemp it's quite obvious that the Gyr on the 11th December is a different bird to the one photographed today from the south end of South Uist that shows a full set of fully grown primaries.

Gyr, 17th December (John Kemp)

So I suppose the question remains, just how many Gyr's have there been? That's at least 3 in the last month and there's one thing for sure; I'm glad I'm not a medium sized gull or wader in Uist at the moment! More photos can be found at Western Isles Wildlife.

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