Wednesday, 2 September 2009

A veritable gull fest

The safari had a plan to go south today, but the wind looked too windy from home and it was decided we'd hit the coast instead. To find out if we missed anything check out John Dempsey's blurb and Martin Mere (no he's not a person!). So it was off down to the coast instead. Well it wasn't that windy and it was from a very poor direction almost due south - hardly a ripple on the sea. Nothing really for it but to go and snap away at some of the gulls roosting on the cliffs over the high tide. They are very confiding. All but a very few were Herring Gulls.

The old boating pool is now a go-kart race track but despite the noise (no carts today thankfully) there is still a roost on the walls and the green bit in the middle is our 'saltmarsh'. A Grey Wagtail flew over and I spotted a Swallow doing a few circuits. Something else caught my eye - a Wheatear - nice bonus bird! They usually pass through not long after first light rather than hanging around until lunchtime.

But you don't want distant shots of Wheatears you want gulls. Well that's what you're getting like it or not. The cliffs are a great place to get to see em close up and examine the minute detail of their complex plumages.

And in flight too.

I like the way this adult is showing all the wear and tear of the breeding season and must be looking forward to completing the moult it has started.

Out to sea there was very little. A few scattered small flocks of Common Scoter, probably no more than fifty in total. A big dark bruiser couldn't be turned from a juvvy Great Black Backed Gull into a Bonxie unfortunately. But as it was duly grilled it did fly over the nose of a Grey Seal that was about a mile out giving an indication of how calm it was. To the left of the Isle of Man ferry there were a couple of, very appropriately, Manx Shearwaters sliding southwards on their epic journey to Brazil.

There could have been more but judging by the state of my scope I was probably wasn't going to see it.What a salt encrusted mess!
Back to the gulls with a Herring Gull in that "I'm looking seriously like a yankee Ring Billed Gull plumage."
"I don't mind you standing there - just throw some bread or let me nod off!"
On the boating pool wall the roost was disappointing but there are four species in the frame. There can be up to a hundred Redshanks. Hardly any Black Headed Gulls and only a handful of Lesser Black Backs seen all afternoon, the latter must be making their way south. Can you see the odd one out?Bit easier in this one.
Did you spot the fourth?An easy Turnstone when they'd shimmied round a bit. Did you get them - there are three in amongst the Redshank? No fibbing now.
The cracks in the rock give a toe (root) hold for a small variety of plants the most numerous of which along this stretch of the cliff are the Sea Plantain
and a daisy type thingy I should know but have temporarily forgotten.You don't want to go down there - - -That's about as rough as it got today - there's no way you can stand here and snap away on a higher tide with a bit of a westerly throwing it up the steps - you'd last one wave!
Back to the gull fest.
The audience looks bored by the kid's one-legged cliff balancing act.
Don't try to sleep too close to the edge you might just drop off!

Where to next? More excitement tomorrow when an old favourite is revisited.

In the meantime let us know what the gulls are up to in your outback.

1 comment:

Monika said...

Nice gull shots - you can really see the details of the different plumages, not that that helps me tell them apart. I'm all right at adult gull ID, but all the sub-adult phases mix me up.

"Daisy type thingy" - now you sound like me IDing plants! I've been improving in that regard all season long, though.