Although there were showers around this morning, I decided to stick with my plan to use the car as little as possible for patchwork, so I set off on foot to make a start on my year list. There was a nasty northwesterly blowing and it was bloody cold, but I didn’t let this put me off.
My first stop to scan the estuary produced a second-winter Iceland Gull. It seemed right that this Stornoway speciality should give me my first opportunity to score multiple points for a species, and it was only when filling in the spreadsheet afterwards that I discovered that my second species for the day/year, Hooded Crow, also gave me two points. Not that I’m complaining, of course. Some way farther on I spotted a couple of Pinkfeet among the Greylags, but as I was standing watching them the mother of all squalls arrived from nowhere and within minutes I was soaked to the skin, waterproofs notwithstanding. So it was back home at a trot for second breakfast and then out again, in the car this time.
Back at the estuary I saw most of the usual ducks and waders, and then a trudge across a birdless saltmarsh brought me to Broad Bay, where I was able to add useful species like Great Northern Diver, Slavonian Grebe, Common Scoter, Eider and Long-tailed Duck; I even got two points for a Shag. The stream that follows the edge of the airport brought the only real surprise of the day: a female Pintail in with a flock of Teal and Mallard. I don’t remember recording this species in the patch before and it wouldn’t surprise me if it’s the only one I see this year.
Then it was down to the harbour, where I picked up a group of ten Black-throated Divers and a distant Gannet way out to sea. I finished the afternoon in Stornoway Castle Grounds, which was (or seemed to be) devoid of birds. I was about to give up and go home for a well-deserved cup of coffee when I heard a Chaffinch, my 50th bird and 60th ‘species point’ of the day. Unfortunately, I reckon there’s only about another 25 species that are more or less guaranteed over the next couple of months, but on the other hand there’s always the possibility of a big influx of gulls that could bring in something interesting. Here’s hoping...