Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Kerry Katona & Stacey Solomon eat yer hearts out

The Safari took Frank for a mooch round a very windy nature reserve this arvo. With the wind so strong - AGAIN - not a lot appeared to be happening. Rather than go on the Viewing Platform we opted to bunk into the nearby hide for a bit of shelter and found another couple in there already with their scope set up. There were plenty of Teal on the water and in the distance a Buzzard played with a big flock of Feral Pigeons which were trying to feed in the field. Further in the distance a huge plume of several thousand gulls appearred over the trees then all the corvids and pigeons went up along with about 200 Lapwings. Suddenly the Teal were in the air too but we never did find the culprit, which was most likely a Peregrine. Two female Goldeneyes were the pick of the waterfowl as almost everything else bar the Coots was tucked away in the margins of the reedbeds out of the wind. Outside the hide window we could here a small flock of Long Tailed Tits - one of which was singing! Further to our right a Water Rail screamed.
Away at the far end of the mere we could see a sizable flock of gulls roosting so decided to wander down that way for a closer look.  On the way we were able to show the couple the Long Eared Owl which was sitting on its now usual twig with its back to the wind - not the best of views! We were joined in the hide by MMcG and as we perused the gulls we couldn't find anything any more out of the ordinary than a Herring Gull with an inordinate amount of white on the wing tip but which looked far to 'ordinarily' grey to be an 'argentatus'.
The sun tried to come out which really put the kibosh on the gulling so we gave up, as we left the hide another couple asked if the owls were showing so we obliged; this couple was a little luckier than the earlier birders as the owl decided to turn its head and open one eye for a quick squint at them.
MMcG went back the way he had come whilst we made up our minds to brave the exposure on the embankment and go round the other side for a better look at the gulls.
On the way we noticed these well grown Bluebells under the large Sycamore tree. But we didn't see or hear any thrushes on the windfall Apples as we passed.
 Our gulling session started with not much just a fair few Black Headed Gulls with a handful of attendant Pochards, whose numbers are  very low compared to not too many years ago, hopefully because of the mild winters and not a general decline in their Eurasian population.
We watched 400 or so small gulls come in from the north east, about half and half Black Heads to Common Gulls. The Common Gulls gave a bit of a scare as there were several 2nd winter birds noted  but only a single 1st winter bird - have they had a diabolical breeding season?
With no Mediterranean Gulls to get us over excited we moved on to the next hide but the water level is still far to high to allow the reeds to be cut in front of the little 'gull' hide, fortunately we couldn't see any gulls on the mere through the top of the reeds so we went to the next hide.
Here there were a few big gulls roosting and bathing. 
All of a sudden there was a big flush and several hundred Teal, at least a couple of dozen Wigeon along with hundreds of gulls. As luck would have it look what dropped right in front of us!!!
Whoopy - flippin - doo the Iceland Gull...or more gloatingly OUR Iceland Gull.

It bathed briefly before paddling vigorously back in to the lee of the reeds where it was out of sight. Nothing for it but to brave the wind and go to the bench where exposure was a distinct possibility. Here we could just about see it through the tops of the violently waving reeds. We stuck it out a few more minutes hoping it would fly - it did and we managed to get off one very poor blurry shot...might have been better to have had the camera set to video mode.
What a brill afternoon! Woulda been briller if it had a been a Glaucous Gull cos we haven't had one yet this year...but we're not complaining too hard as far as we know this is the only Iceland Gull in the county...until someone tells us differently.
Finished the entries in the notebook with two Blackbirds and two fly-over Mistle Thrushes on an almost passerine-free day.
Where to next? There is the small matter - or not so small - of the Glaucous Gull up the coast a bit or we might be able to go Smew-and-Glossy Ibis-ing or maybe we'll be back on the nature reserve tomorrow - who knows.
In the meantime let us know who's gone to Iceland in your outback.


Warren Baker said...

Blue bells already Davo, looking forward to an early spring this year!

Like the photo's today, give a real feel to the post :-)

cliff said...

Well done getting your Iceland Gull Dave, that's a bird I've never seen - and even if I ever do I reckon I'd need to be sat in a hide next to someone with your gull ID skills before I could tick that one off.

Stuart Price said...

Congrats on the Iceland Gull!