Compost Gull and Seawatching

It’s often a subject around the dinner table between the summer residents of the Isle of May on whether it is always the same Lesser Black-backed Gull that visits the compost heap that is just outside the Lighthouse Keepers cottage.
The compost heap mainly consists of a few rotting citrus fruits and spent ground coffee, but the odd bit of left over pasta or dead bird keeps the gulls returning daily.


About a week ago Mark successfully trapped a gull in the heap and Carrie got to ring her first Lesser which was seen returning to the garden within a couple of days.

It became quite obvious there was more then one gull using the compost heap as unringed birds were noted daily, so while I was having a post dinner seawatch from the veranda I decided to try and catch an unringed bird that was using heap.

 

I hid in the mothtrap shed and waited for the signal from Mark and Lowlighters, Steve and Ian who had come out to join us looking out to sea. After about 15 minutes the bird dropped into the wooden frame so I decided to go for it.

 

The bird panicked on my appearance and got stuck, it’s path blocked by my considerable bulk flying over the side. I landed ankle deep in some pretty rotten horrid filth of the heap, but the bird was secured.

 

 We took the bird to the ringing hut where it was ringed by Ian and released.

Close up the bird was quite stunning. Close up you can see the details of the eye and the wings. The bird was not too pleased about being caught and really gave as good as it got.This bird is marked with a green colouring with the letter M on it. We shall keep an eye on the compost heap to see which birds return the compost heap.

The fun did not stop there either. While we were watching the sea, we noted Arctic Skua, Manx Shearwaters, a probable island record count of Common Scoter, Harbour Porpoise and a Minke Whale.

Minke Whales are noted off the island regularly throughout the season with an increase of sightings from mid July onwards. Tonight’s sighting was quite special as the Minke was jumping right out of the water! It leeped out near a fishing boat. Even though the animal was over a mile away you could see the tidal wave splash with the naked eye! It almost made me jump out of my skin as it came right up in my field of view in my telescope.

We don’t watch the TV out here but with that kind of nightly entertainment who needs to?

I’d like to thank Ian and Mark for contributing photographs for this blog entry.

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