Saturday, 6 July 2013

Ascension Frigatebird on Islay

The summer sunshine and a quiet morning had us thinking it was all over for the next few weeks until we received an email from the site manager of The Oa Reserve on Islay simply stating 'photos taken in Bowmore Harbour by visitors this morning, looks like an immature frigatebird to me".

Expecting a deathly morning on the news, Josh Jones almost fell from his chair when the first image downloaded: perched nonchalantly on the harbour wall was a juvenile Ascension Frigatebird! I counted 13 exclamation marks in Josh's replies to the email and liberal doses of adjectives such as 'incredible' and 'remarkable'. And, as such, the summer 2013 rollercoaster was about to reach another high as he was able to break news of Britain's second-ever Ascension Frigatebird, almost sixty years to the day since a moribund individual was discovered on Tiree.

After checking the exif data from the images and some detective work Josh found that the photo of the bird perched on the harbour wall was taken at 08:25 with the flight shot at 08:43, crucially suggesting the bird was not moribund/exhausted and was more than able to fly.

Ascension Frigatebird (Photos: Jim Sim)

Two further potential sightings emerged during the afternoon: a report of the bird perched on the gunwhale of a ship southwest of Portnahaven and then, perhaps more crucially for potential twitchers, it was seen drifting over Carnain at 16:00.

There has been no news so far this morning although at least 30 twitchers are reported to be on the ferry over to Islay at present. Let's see how Saturday unfolds...

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