Tuesday, 29 March 2011

Gulls And More Summer Migrants

The weather totally changed overnight, with the high pressure and blue skies of recent days replaced with rain and mist! A drastic change in weather conditions during migration periods usually means something happens on the birding front, so this morning I chose to leave 15 minutes early for band practice so I could give the Estuary the once over.

A scan with my bins over the rather small collection of big Gulls just north of Coronation Corner revealed the very exciting sight of an immature white winger! I quickly assembled my telescope to see...

...a first-winter Iceland Gull :-)

This is the first Iceland Gull (seen) on the Axe since August 2009. As you can see it was a very well marked individual with a fair bit of streaking around the eye and head, and some dark markings still on the scapulars and coverts.

It spent a few minutes in the water, before flying a short distance and landing amongst the main gathering of Gulls...

Note the second summer Med in the foreground!

After watching it for about 25 minutes, and just as Ian Mc pulled up, it took to the air and flew off north. Despite looking for it this afternoon, there's been no sign of it since :-(

Today has seen a fair bit of Gull action, with up to 40 Lesser Black-backed Gulls on the Estuary and six Med Gulls...

All six of today's Med Gulls - the only adult was the metal ringed bird

The weather conditions really did 'feel' good today for some migration action, but aside ten Sand Martins, a Swallow and two singing Willow Warblers at Lower Bruckland Ponds late morning, it wasn't until I got to Black Hole Marsh mid afternoon that I noticed some actual passage.

Here 20 Sand Martins, several Meadow Pipits and a surprise flock of eight Ringed Plovers flew north over. Afterwards at Seaton Marshes I saw just four hirundines, but one of these was my first House Martin of 2011. It was with two Sand Martins and a Swallow feeding low over the southern part of the reserve.

To complete today's post, the Bewick's Swan is still in the valley, and during a quick sea watch late afternoon, my first Sandwich Tern of the year came in and flew around for a few minutes looking totally lost in the sea mist!...

Sorry about the awful photo, but as you should know by now - it never normally stops me! :-)

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