Overnight the weather had been quite fierce, with strong winds and lashing rain, and I was less than convinced that attempting to seek out the Gyr Falcon would meet with success. After looking at maps, and discussions with Andy Schofield ( "a young man wise beyond his years", who insisted on one of the islands probably playing host to the bird ) I set off and progressively checked off the sites.
So, guess what, on one of the islands off Portnahaven there the bird was, being harassed by two Hooded Crows!! Scoped from a long distance away, I chased round to the village and moved opposite to where the birds were. Tremendous sight ! The bird was perched on a protruding rock , but being mobbed regularly and flew around a couple of times. Powerful, languid motion but with the contained menace of an efficient predator. I managed to contact Keith Betton and colleague, who are here on holiday, and they then saw the bird and even got a photograph ( a copy will appear later ). Super stuff. At distance the bird looked white but, on closer examination, the back was pale whitish-grey, which might suggest an Icelandic bird, although I'd always presumed them to be darker.
The remainder of the day was, inevitably, an anticlimax. A "circuit of Loch Indaal to count the Light -bellied Brent Geese, for which the second winter census occurs this weekend , and a couple of WeBS counts ( B.T.O. wildfowl and wader counts ) saw most of the day absorbed when linked to a couple of personal things I'd to attend to. Duck and wader numbers are most certainly reduced but there is still a good variety to be seen. A couple of waters I visited were still frozen in part indicating how solid they must have been earlier.
Even the sea showed some life. A few auks, mainly Razorbill, went south and Fulmars were both on two local colonies and at sea, although not much else other than low numbers of Common and Herring Gull.
Finally, a journey home with, hopefully, the car now having no further problems and a smile from ear to ear. Not a bad day!