The Safari went to the nature reserve again with the intention to get the Iceland Gull. On the drive in we did nail Goldfinch on site for the year...not one we were likely to struggle for for long though. Once at the hide we learned we'd just missed the Iceland gull by a few minutes AGAIN. So we hung around and waited whiling the time away with our birding chums. With nothing new to add to the list we decided to try the moss for the Tundra Bean Geese. Before we set off for the moss we went to view the Whooper Swans (55) a little way in the opposite direction and hoped to pick up the Green Sandpiper that has been there as an 'insurance' tick. No Green Sandpiper...but two Lapwings (56) went into the notebook for the first time this year and off to the geese we went.
No geese at the spot they have regularly been at so we tried another of their 'regular' locations, no joy there either - becoming a wild goose chase but we did get several Rooks (57) on the way and the no-geese field had a small flock of Skylarks (58). As we turned round to try location № 3 we got a text from CR saying he was in Ice Station Zebra and had just got some pics of the Iceland Gull - stuff the geese...we high tailed it back to the nature reserve at breakneck speed. Still there!!! Iceland Gull (59:MMLNR52) made it into the notebook...phew. We filled our boots - or at least the SD card - with gull pics in the reasonable light, helped by some good tips from resident expert PT.
This is one of the rarest gulls this year, today it only outnumbered the Iceland Gull 2:1!!! 1st winter Common Gull - where are they all?
For 'proper' pics of the Iceland Gull etc see here. We spent much of the afternoon at the nature reserve enjoying the Iceland Gull and others including a superb display of hovering in the ever stiffening breeze by one of the local Kestrels. Our regular Snipe flushing Sparrowhawk sped by several times giving the other photographers ample BiF opportunities with the Teal, Wigeon and Shoveler.
Then it was time to stretch our legs, our back has 'gone', give Frank a bit of game of ball then head off somewhere else. 'Somewhere else' ended up back at the Whooper Swans, of which there were 80) but still no Green Sandpiper. Somewhere else mkII was a little further south at Fairhaven Lake, passing an Oystercatcher (60) on the posh school's playing field just before we pulled up to park, where we spotted the female Scaup (61) in dreadful light after about 20 seconds. With our back now really painful it was time to call it a day - dunno what we've done...kidney failure from the holiday excesses or a chilled muscle from to much sitting in cold draughty hides or a twinge from some unknown cause - whatever the cause it flippin hurts, will have to rest it well at work tomorrow.
So two days into the New Year and were almost 2/3rds the way to half way to our target of 200...not a bad start.
Where to next? Back to the grind tomorrow but that means Patch 2 will be in play and a few new species are anticipated.
In the meantime let us know how you are progressing in your outback.