Doing a 'recce' with Davy Rodger on Holy Island before the autumn season gets going. It's a late August morning and we are going to walk a short circular involving both the Straight and Crooked Lonnens. There's little passerine migration but still plenty to see, and the sunny conditions are great for being out in this special place. It's virtually windless, which is ideal as we start by standing on the causeway and checking the wader flocks. We soon reel off the usual suspects plus a stunning Grey Plover still in summer plumage. We watch a small group of Wigeon fly past and marvel at the sight of 2 Little Egret, as we remember their past rarity status and discuss the news that they now breed locally. In the distance 3 young terns are diving for fish, but they are too far away to tell whether they are Arctic or Common. We move on - to the island itself and stop off at the Snook. Little to see so we head for the village, park up and begin our walk.

One of my favourite places anywhere is Emmanuel Head on the island's north east corner. Scopes out and we scour the sea to the north and south. There's a steady stream of Gannets and Fulmar, plenty of passing Sandwich Tern and the occasional flock of duck like Teal and Scoter. Then I see a dark shape flying very low over the water with menacing purpose. It suddenly climbs and harries a tern which seems to panic and drop a small fish. The Arctic Skua drops down, lands on the water and eats its snatch. I see another skua swimming close by, but this bird is a pale phase Arctic. Davy and I speculate if the two birds are a breeding pair and what colour phase their offspring would be. Presumably immaterial to the hapless tern that was robbed of its catch.

Mark Winter

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