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Thread: Raptors over Caithness - what are they?

  1. #1
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Watten area
    Posts
    189

    Default Raptors over Caithness - what are they?

    I managed to snap off a few pictures of what I assume are raptors flying over the Loch Watten area. They do look like large seagulls however they are significantly larger and this morning seagulls were making a lot of noise trying to chase them away. The pictures below are the best I have managed to take this morning, I may get better ones in the future. Initially I thought they may be Osprey's however I am not sure what they are. Yesterday I watched 4 of them flying around, circling, they did not show that much interest in the Loch, they appeared to be more interested in farmland.






  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jan 2012
    Location
    Reay area
    Posts
    136

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    I don't think they are raptors. The head, beak and wing shape look similar to black back gulls, but it's difficult to tell from a photo and from underneath. Gulls don't like black backs. We get them, especially at lambing time. They are mean and nasty and I have seen a ewe give birth and before she got up a male blac k ba k was down and away with her lamb. I've also seen one attack a fox that was eating a rabbit. Black backs can get a wingspan of about 6 feet. They also take ducklings, young moorhens, oystercatcher chicks and teewits to name but a few. If you find out any thing different that doesn't come up on the Org, please let us know as it's interesting. Cheerio.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Watten area
    Posts
    189

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    Susie, thanks. I did not realise that gulls could could be so large. I had a look and the guide on wiki does look like it is a Black Back Gull - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Great_b...nd_Ireland.jpg

  4. #4

    Default

    Great pictures. The picture showing the left wing curving down has grey top feathers leading to a black wingtip. This looks like a Lesser Black Back gull.
    Last edited by Stargazer; 11-Aug-14 at 19:15.

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Jan 2005
    Location
    Wick
    Posts
    257

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    Saw a couple of these on the Wick river several weeks ago. It was the wingspan that caught my eye, then noticed that they didn't behave in quite the same way as the smaller gulls, more like raptors as the OP said. Interesting.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2013
    Location
    Melvich
    Posts
    7

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    There are various raptors in the area Hen Harrier moors at the back of Halkirk or out Forsinard direction Ospreys Loch Calder area also seen them at Melvich on the Halladale River. This year we have even seen a long eared owl in the area.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Aug 2014
    Location
    Tain
    Posts
    9

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    I'm almost certain they are Greater Black Backed Gulls. They are enormous compared to other gulls and are best described as 'nasty s', very aggressive and will attack almost anything if it thinks it can steal food.
    Warren Dukes
    Vice Chairman Highland 4X4 Response

  8. #8

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    By far the biggest of the local gulls, Greater Black Backed Gulls are common on the east Caithness coast, where they breed on prominent locations
    such as sea stacks.. They are largely marine but do also occur inland and can be seen all year round.

    Lesser Black Backs are about the same size as Herring Gulls and a rare sight this far north. Their wing colour is not as black as the Greater.
    Like Herring Gulls, Lessers are at home in urban areas. The numbers of Herring Gulls breeding on the coast here have plummeted in the last 20 years
    although they are still common on the coast.


    As has been noted, Greater Black Backs are fearsome predators, regularly killing other gulls such as the much smaller Kittiwake by drowning them.
    Even though their number has dropped recently after a big population increase through the 90s, Kittiwakes are the most numerous of all the gulls on the east Caithness coast,
    albeit just for the short breeding season. They are truly a marine gull spending the winter far out at sea. I guess they will be the most numerous gull in the Northern Hemisphere
    given they have successfully spread from the Arctic well south into both the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans?


    On the parks inland here occur both Common Gulls and Black Headed Gulls. They mix with Lapwings and Golden Plovers at times but I suspect only do so to steal food from these plovers.
    Herring Gulls readily steal from them all!

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Location
    Watten area
    Posts
    189

    Default

    thanks for all the replies ... Greater Black Back Gull it is ...

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