The Safari got a chance to have a look at Patch 2 this morning. The wind was cold but offshore enough to keep the sea quite calm, at least for the first mile or so. This allowed the Common Scoters to be far more visible and we sort of counted about 500 of them but there wasn't anything else at all with them as far we could see.
On the beach a scattering of Oystercatchers were intermingled with just over 200 mixed gulls. We we're hoping for a Mediterranean Gull but no such luck, one the other hand a Lesser Black Back Gull caught our eye for being rather dark and lacking almost any contrast between the mantle/upper wing coverts and the primaries...intermedius type rather than graellsi??? Wouldn't like to call it with the way gull grey shades change with the angle of the light. The nearby Herring Gulls all looked quite 'normally grey'. But where are all the argentatus Herring Gulls, not seen anything that has stood out as 'northern' yet this back end. To be fair the gull numbers on our stretch of the beach this winter have been decidedly low despite all the shellfish wrecks from the storms. Why, where are they??? Casual observations from the other beaches along the Prom haven't really produced enormous numbers either but we could easily have missed big counts.
Lunchtime was no better if a little rougher out at sea, similar numbers of Common Scoters and still nothing with them. Less on the beach too as the tide was well on its way in.
After work we headed to the waste recycling depot where a reasonable number of gulls sat on the roof. It's not the most salubrious birding location we've ever been but the reward would be worth it if it was there and if we could find it.
We couldn't! Most of the gulls were out of view so we got out of the Land Rover and walked down the road stopping every few yards to get a different angle, still no joy. We were beginning to feel a bit down hearted when a boy racer sped by trying to break the sound barrier in his little hot hatchback. He had one of those silly exhaust tail pipes that looks like a bucket - dohhh - but as he slowed for the bend the bucket coughed, spluttered and popped a bit flushing a load more gulls from the far side of the roof - lo and behold right there slap gang in the middle of the flock was the white winger Iceland Gull (90) in the bag. Thank goodness for small boys and their toys. It didn't stick around but flew off with the other gulls south over the raised highway and out of sight.
No chance of a pic in the heavy drizzle and evening gloom. Hopefully it'll stick around long enough for us to find it in some sunshine.
Where to next? Gotta do those Winter Thrushes in the morning which might add a couple more to our Foot It challenge too.
In the meantime let us know who's hanging around the sheds in your outback.