Monday, 30 March 2015

Another Good Gull

Well spring migration still appears to be on hold, I've not seen anything remotely summery since my last blog post. In fact the only new migrants I've heard off around here were three Swallows over Seaton Marshes last night, seen by Tim Wright. Tim also found a Slav Grebe last Friday off Seaton Hole, and I was pleased to see it this afternoon - what a stunner! It's virtually in full summer plumage and wasn't too far out either.

With a pretty hefty weather front looming I had to check the gulls on the Estuary this afternoon. A second-summer Med Gull was obvious off Coronation Corner, but I needed to change vantage point to scan through the decent numbers of Common Gulls to the north, there were about 90, a notable increase.  I had a proper look through them from the gateway just north of Axmouth village, and was a bit shocked to find exactly what I was hoping for - Ring-billed Gull!  Despite the distance, the paler grey mantle, size and build of the bird, and almost complete lack of tertial crescent made it a pretty easy call...

My only slight hesitation was that its bill and legs weren't exactly bright yellow, but I suspected this was because it wasn't an adult but a second-summer.  Conveniently it then flew...

Extensive black on the wing tips, some dark marks on the primary coverts and remnants of a tail bar confirmed my thoughts, a third calendar year bird it was. On the lower photo (above) it's the lower bird.

It spent about ten minutes flying around and occasionally dropping down on the river just north of Tower Hide, before returning to the mud flats. This is when Ian M and Tim Wright turned up, and they arrived just in the nick of time.  I put the digi camera up to my scope and took this snap...

 ...which is shockingly out-of-focus (but still shows mantle colour, lack of tertial crescent and overall size). I changed the settings on the camera and went to take another pic, but it had gone, and wasn't seen again today. Common Gulls were always coming and going, and I think it sneaked off north whilst I was camera faffing.

Once a regular bird in Devon, and I have seen three in as many years here, but this was the first Ringer on the Axe for a whopping seven years! It's was about bloody time as I always scan through Common Gull flocks on the off chance.  Today it paid off.


  1. Well done Steve, two good gulls in a matter of days - what's next on the agenda?!

    1. Thanks Mike, to be open and honest I'm after a Slender-billed...

  2. I suppose last year's Ross's and multiple Bonaparte's may have blown all our Larid luck on the Exe for a while, still can't help feeling a little envious though. Well done though, Steve.

    1. Thanks Tim. As ever the Exe will strike back in style - always does! And I can't see us getting a Ross's any time soon (mind you, I wouldn't have predicted one on Bowling Green in mid summer either!)