Saturday, 20 February 2021

Why Always In Threes?

Gulls have been my main focus since the cold snap ended, with several days of rough weather producing good numbers on the Estuary... happy Steve!

However it's not all been happy or gone to plan, on three occasions to be precise! Last Monday I had naked eye views of what looked all the world to be an adult or near-adult white-winger fly up the Axe Valley with two Herring Gulls.  Size wise an Iceland for me, but it's a record that's not going anywhere unless it's seen again.

Then there was the evening before (14th) when a last ditch scan through the gulls in near darkness revealed an ok-looking first-winter Caspian Gull.  I managed a couple of photos before the whole flock lifted up and most the gulls flew off out to sea.  

Also on the Sunday evening, the gull flock where the probable Caspian was, also hosted at least 13 Med Gulls.  However to get to this flock before it got too dark I drove past an Estuary full of Black-headed Gull flocks.  How many Med's were in with them the mind boggles -  it could have been a really good count.  What was a good count were the 87 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, nicely proving spring gull passage is well underway...

Lots of LBBG's and at least eight Meds in this pic

So many Black-backed of the yellow-legged variety :-)

And this is the best shot I managed of the possible Caspian.  Certainly looks promising but without seeing its spread wing, underwing or tail another record that's sadly going nowhere...

Pale head, narrow bill, grey uppers and dark tertials. Looking ok despite the gloom!

There's also been heaps of Common Gulls about.  Had 710 fly south down the valley in under twenty minutes at dusk on 18th, and tonight over 450 did the same.  Love looking through Common Gull flocks, although Ring-billeds have become so rare nowadays there's still always a chance...

Mostly Common Gulls

Been plenty of Med Gulls too.  On the evening of Sunday 14th when I fluffed the Casp, the thirteen I counted could easily have been 30+ considering how many more small gulls were gathered down river.  On 18th eight Med Gulls flew down river at dusk with the 710 Common Gulls, and tonight I had 19 in an hour from 4:15pm.  The vast majority of them have been adults, with just a sprinkling of second and first-winters. Not that I mind at all because many of the adults are looking so smart now...

Full summer adult Med Gull, with a winter version to the left

So there you go.  Plenty of gulls but no cherry on top, well not quite.  Frustrating. So bloody frustrating.

I will leave you with something a bit more colourful, and you could even say cute?  During a wonderful evening walk around Seaton Wetlands on Thursday, I enjoyed super views of this lovely Roe buck in velvet.  Simple but beautiful. And just for a change, not a gull...

Hoping my gull luck changes soon!

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