Thursday, 30 April 2020

Garden Mega

Well you can't say I didn't see it coming - although really wasn't expecting it from the house! Find below a snippet from yesterday's blog post...

At about 18:30 today, whilst I was in the middle of Harry's bath and bed routine, Twilight Tim (Davey) messaged that he'd found an Iceland Gull on the Estuary.  But by the time I got to my phone there was a second message to say it had flown off south, along with some suitably gripping video footage.  However 15 minutes later there was another message to say it was back. Many thanks for the updates Tim.

I positioned myself at the bedroom window and tried to get a look at every gull I could see in flight over the small section of Estuary inline with mine.  Much to my surprise, ten minutes later bingo, Iceland Gull flying low north up the Estuary! I really wasn't expecting it as most gulls that take off from the Axe Estuary mid-afternoon onwards fly south, which would have ensured it remained out of view from me.

It was flying steadily north, and after the few seconds I was watching it, just as it was about to disappear behind the tree in the foreground that blocks my view north east, it chose to circle around twice with a Herring Gull, before then continuing north out of view.  This gave me a couple of extra seconds to grab my camera and take these two photos.  Yes they can only be described as dreadful shots, but it is a real credit to the capabilities of the P900 that in these couple of extra seconds, at a distance of about half a mile, through a not very clean window, I managed to get anything identifiable at all!

Striking even at this distance!

Just as it flew out of view

Although Iceland Gulls are annual here, they very often don't stick around for long and I've just never been looking out the window at the right time - this is a full fat house tick! 

These distant views were a really good reminder of how big Iceland Gulls can look in flight.  Most Iceland Gulls at rest are clearly smaller than Herring Gulls, and if you see a large looking white-winged Gull in flight it is so easy to incorrectly conclude Glaucous (which are so much bigger than Herring Gulls at rest).  Yes Iceland Gull maybe smaller than Herring Gull, but they are a long winged bird and their whiter wings will always make them 'appear' larger than a darker winged bird even of similar size - especially in dull light conditions.   Just something to bare in mind if you encounter a flying white-winger.

Iceland Gull takes my lockdown house list to 85, with the other addition since my last post being Dunlin and Water Rail, both heard after dark on 28th.  The latter being particularly vocal.  Am pleased to report the Grasshopper Warbler continues to reel, although it seems to have moved a short distance as it's a bit quieter from the garden now. 

Although my camera was with me in the bedroom for the gull, I stupidly didn't take it with me today for my daily family walk.  As we came back through Black Hole Marsh the Ruff was showing exceptionally well, as can be seen with this phone pic...

Why oh why did I go camera-less!

And how can I not end this post without bragging about these beauts Jess cooked up today.  We are trying to eat sensibly during lockdown, but you've got to allow a treat now and then...

She's good at photographing the fruits of her labour too!

Stay safe everyone.


  1. Stopping by for some vicarious birding... locked down in landlocked Chilterns Hills, which has its compensations, but no waders. A Moorhen was a major local rarity... (46 lock down birds)

    Anyway, thought I'd mention black rabbits are supposed to be a response to disease, in particular myximatosis, being more disease resistant

    1. Hi Ed, many thanks for your comment. Very interesting about the rabbits, and it would certainly explain why they keep appearing! Good luck with the lock down listing - although may not have all that long left!

      Best wishes,