An interesting and educational day today, if a little frustrating at times. There was a passage of terns on and off the whole day in small groups which totalled 47, but due to the conditions both myself and Phil felt it was not possible to say with 100% certainty what species any of them were! The sky was cloudless, and looking into the sun the whole day meant that birds were generally silhouettes, and even structural details became hard to discern in the glare. Add to this heat shimmer and some tripod shake when not in the lee of the shack and you have a recipe for some challenging bird ID! Indeed at times the birds seemed to show features of different and dissimilar species at the same time. Yet another reminder, not that i need one, of just how hard seabirding really is.
A lone tern flew through towards the end of the count and we agreed it was a good candidate for either Sandwich or Gull-Billed; i see the former pretty regularly between late March and late September. So ironically we may have had a 2nd State record, we just don't know which species! I think it's fair to say that there was a consensus that at least some of the other terns were Arctics. It makes me wonder how many go by un-ID'd. If a supporting cast for this High Arctic bird were needed it was provided by a respectable count of 12 Red Throated Loons, which nests the furthest north of all the loon species, getting almost as far north as there is land and small pools of open water. Additionally i had a Parasitic Jaeger during the evening flight which probably nests the furthest north of the jaegers. It is generally the case that the birds which breed the furthest north migrate the latest.
Canada Geese continued to go through with almost 200 and there was a good high count of Ring Billed Gulls with 168 - they really were "all over the gaff", as they say in Sheffield.