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Sunday, 26 February 2012

More white-winged gulls...

Following on from Tuesday's success, I have spent some time this week looking at gulls and feel quite fired up about it. With so many Iceland Gulls in the country at the moment and a report of a Kumlein's Gull at Allerton, the  opprtunities are there to see some good birds.  Rather than lots of entries, here is a resume of five days of gull-watching.

On Wednesday 22nd Feb I tried Farnham Quarry again on the evening, just to make sure I wasn't dreaming on the Tuesday; although the larger gulls were quite late in coming in, both adults and all three 1st-years eventually came in to roost.

On Thursday 23rd Feb, I tried scanning a viewable area at Allerton land-fill, just three miles south of Boroughbridge.  
Distant views of loafing gulls at Allerton

On arrival, I was greeted by brief views of a probable 2nd-winter Glaucous Gull, but before I could get my 'scope on it, all the gulls flew up, spooked by two Red Kites flying over the site.
Red Kite

Observations over the next couple of hours came up with three 1st-winter (or possibly 2nd-year) Iceland Gulls.  Two were invariably together, the third and largest bird was always apart.   Very few larger gulls around by 16:30, so suspect this is more of a day-time loafing site rather than a roost.  I wonder if these Iceland Gulls are the same that roost at Farnham?
Iceland Gull
Iceland Gull

On Friday 24th Feb morning, in intermittent drizzle, I tried the tip again for a couple of hours.  No Glaucous Gull this time, but at least five immature Iceland Gulls in different stages of advancement.  When the sun eventually came out the light was excellent, and reasonable views were obtained of the gulls.  There were two what I would consider standard 1st-winter plumage, albeit pale; two more with an almost pearly pallor, with hardly any buff mottling, pale eyes and pink-based bills which were probably 2nd-year birds; one very small individual, probably 2nd-winter, with faint traces of chevrons on primaries, recalling Kumlein's Gull, but considered to be Iceland.
Iceland Gull

An adult Kittiwake was also of note and a large, lanky white-headed gull which recalled Caspian Gull had me going for a bit.  Not entirely convinced, but certainly a striking looking long-legged bird.

gull sp.

A couple of hours on Saturday 25th Feb morning produced a biscuit-coloured 1st-year Glaucous Gull, and at last a superb adult Iceland Gull with three 1st and 2nd-years.  

Glaucous Gull

Iceland Gulls, adult (centre left) and probable 2nd-year (centre right)

In the evening on Saturday, I watched the roost at Farnham Quarry, and very few larger gulls about, less than 150, but did include a pale 1st/2nd-year and an adult.

On Sunday 26th Feb, again spent an hour at Allerton, and managed two 1st/2nd-year birds at range, until all the gulls were spooked by some kids after rabbits.  Some minutes later, another or same was seen in flight over the site, but the gulls just would not settle again.

In the evening, even fewer larger gulls at Farnham Quarry, probably less than 50 by 17:00, but did include a 1st/2nd-year Iceland.  It was one of those evenings where if someone had come along to see all these gulls, it was a case of  'you should have been here a couple of days ago...'

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