Severe winter south west gales lashing the west coast of Islay brought in a scarce passage migrant - an adult Grey Phalarope. The solitary bird in winter plumage was spotted by Teresa Morris, herself a visitor from Cumbria, on the shores of Loch Indaal near Uiskentuie Farm. The Grey Phalarope is a small wader, approximately 20cm in length, that breeds in Arctic Greenland and Iceland on coastal wet tundra. They winter off the coasts of West Africa and South America. Migration is well out to sea but winter storms such as those at the end of December 2006, can blow them onto the west coast of Scotland. Grey Phalaropes frequently accompany whales and surface shoals of fish, alighting on the backs of whales in search of parasites. In summer they feed on a wide range of invertebrates mainly from the water surface. On migration they feed on crustaceans, molluscs, insects, and vegetable matter.
Story and picture published with kind permission from The Ileach