Monday, 14 January 2008

Fraserburgh, Monday 7th January

A pretty gash day for crossbills due to high wind speed so thought a jolly up to the Broch was in order to see if I could spot a 'white-winged' gull. Several had been reported at The Blue Toon, however, I couldn't be arsed going cross eyed at a thousand or so gulls flying around my head and trying to pick out a Glauc or an Iceland. Have always found the Broch to be an aesthetically better place for a stroll looking for such gulls -usually they are either sitting on the water or on the quay side. Maybe that's just me ?

Took a detour of the Ugie - Bonapartes indeed -paah !

Well, the Broch turned out to be a pile of crap re-the gulls and was reflected by the fact that I was more interested in watching a Grey Seal trying to catch and eat Black-headed gulls that were sitting on the water. There were 8 seals in the inner harbour, the most I have seen. A single Goldeneye and R.B Merganser in the harbour were barely mentionable.

On a nostalgic note I saw this fine example of a vessel leave the harbour:

This is former Fisheries Research Vessel (F.R.V) "Clupea" and used to belong to the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland with whom I was a Scientific Officer in a previous life. In fact I did my first 'sea trip' on "Clupea" in March 1986 in the Clyde at Ballantrae Bank, monitoring and 'sampling' a spring spawning ground for Herring ( 'Clupea harrengus' is the scientific name for Herring, or certianly used to be - maybe it's been split since then !). Most Herring spawn in the Autumn in the North Sea ( so it probably is a different type or subspecies).

As part of that trip we spent a lot of time tied up at various ports in the Clyde (and the Crianlarich Ferry Quay), the worst of which by far was Campbelltown on the Mull of Kintyre. I vowed then if I never saw Campbelltown again I would be a happy man. I have never been back. When Paul McCartney wrote his famous ode "Mull of Kintyre" it is clear to me he had never been to Campbelltown. If any readers from Campbelltown are reading this and are offended - get over it ! Your town is shit.

Most surreal memory from that trip was watching a Gannet dive bomb a Herring lying on the aft deck of the ship. The bird clunked into the metal deck at great speed, and dazed like a punch drunk boxer, shook it's head, picked up the herring and flew off !

Have got many great anecdotes from my days as a fledgling marine biologist but they will have to wait for my memoirs I am afraid - some of the people are still alive.

I promise, no more gulls from now on, only real birds like Crossbills. To paraphrase The Oddie "aren't Gulls Crap" !

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