Thursday 19 August 2021

Summer Gulling

Gulls really can save the slowest months in the birding year for me.  Whatever the season there's always gulls coming and going, not necessarily always loads but there is usually some movement going on - that's just the nature of gulls.  They are my key for getting through every winter, when all other birds are settled, insects aren't about and spring is still a long way off. 

Mid-summer is another time of year when gulls are the main reason I keep my scope in the car. The annual dispersal of post-breeding gulls is often the first sign that autumn is coming, although this year it wasn't as prolific as usual.

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls have been really few and far between this year, not just here but right across the UK.  Suspect it has something to do with the lack of south westerly winds?  I've seen more in a day many times before than I have during the whole of this year!  My grand total is two. And neither showed particularly well.

Bird one was on the Estuary late on 28th July, fairly close but always against the light which was rapidly fading...

The brute on the right! Check out the structural differences to the Herring Gull, especially head and bill shape

Looking a bit GBBG-like, as juv Yellow-legs often do

Really pleased with this one, that open Herring Gull wing allowing a great comparison!  Look how restricted the pale is on the inner primaries of the YLG compared to the photo-bombing Herring.

My second came just two days later, but remained frustratingly distant. And that's it, no more for me sadly.  Let's just hope the remainder of August and September delivers a few more.

Med Gulls are the other species of gull often associated with mid summer, and unlike juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls, a breeding plumage adult Med Gull will excite even the most gull-averse birder!  Although I can't say my first of the season on 29th June looked pleased to be here...

A cheesed off first-summer

Numbers slowly crept up during the following week, with this stunning adult from the office a real treat on 4th July.  Not sure you can beat a full summer Med...

Perfection in a gull

And then my first juvenile, which also kindly decided to drop in right in front of my office, on 19th July...

One day you will look like the bird above

Probably less than two months old!

So although I have seen some Med Gulls, just like the Yellow-legs there are fewer than usual this year.  In previous years small flocks can be seen flying west offshore during July/August, with double figure counts often easily achieved.  Far from that this year though unfortunately, but still, even the odd one is not to be sniffed at. It's a species that will always perk me up that's for sure :-)

My most recent (an adult) taken from a tram on 15th Aug

And if somehow gulls still aren't your thing, check back soon for a wading bird update...

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