Tuesday, 22 January 2013

Candles and Horsehay, 21st Jan 2013

High hopes of throngs of gulls desperate for food in the heavy snow were dashed on arrival at the tip, where maybe 500 birds were feeding, but this small total included the 2cy Caspian Gull from last time. It wasn't there long, but managed to relocate it on the ice at Horsehay Pool where the views were infinitely better, and it is clearly the bird from Silverdale, Staffs in Dec 2012. Good stuff

Thursday, 17 January 2013

Candles, 14th and 17th Jan 2013

After what felt like an age, managed to get a few hours at the tip again on Monday 14th, in the snow and rain. The balance seems to have swung back in favour of LBBs again, and as well as 5 michs, a distinctive colour combination behind a distant fence proved to be a 2cy Caspian Gull, and the pale-billed bird seen by Dawn and Pete on 27th and 28th December! Where's it been in the interim, as although I've not been looking, others have. Distance unfortunately means it's videograbs or bust...
A planned lengthy session the next day was cancelled due to the arrival of chickenpox in the house, but an hour or two as the snow started to trickle down on 17th turned up a different 2cy Caspian Gull in the field just down the lane from the tip. This was the same as that seen briefly by KW at Priorslee on 12th (the one out of three that actually was one). First-winter number 3 for the tip within four weeks!

Saturday, 5 January 2013

Buildwas and Candles, 3rd Jan 2013

The first visit to the tip of the new year took me past the huge floods alongside the River Severn at Buildwas, and a few hundred big gulls demanded a quick look. 2 ad michs and a huge (GBB-sized) 4cy Caspian Gull were the rewards.
Despite superficially looking older, the primary pattern, dark primary coverts and black in the tail all added up to a 3rd-winter.
Up at the tip, the balance had swung further in favour of HGs, with maybe 1,200 compared to 800 LBBs, and an impressive 100 GBBs along with 5 michs. Late on, as a wave of c700 gulls flew in from the north (off the quarry?), I picked up a Glauc in flight, judged to be a 3cy based on the patchy buff and white plumage and pink-based bill, but I lost it as a few hundred birds headed off south, presumably to Chelmarsh.

Salop gulling, 2012

The early part of the year saw Priorslee Lake in Telford provide the bulk of the gulling interest, with a couple of Casps and wingers, but the best was a hybrid Ring-billed x Lesser Black-backed Gull in early Feb.
As usual the summer was larid-free due to a combination of lack of time and lack of many gulls, but an early 1cy Caspian in October was a nice surprise. But it wasn't until 19th November that things really got started, when I discovered that Telford's "other" tip, Candles landfill site, was back in full swing, and 3,000 LBBs in the field opposite had already found it. A few days later, on 23rd, I twitched a GND/BNG combo at Chelmarsh and decided to stay for the roost, which eventually amounted to c800 LBBs and a striking hooded thing only seen at extreme range, but which looked pretty good for an Azorean... A couple of days later the roost was much larger, but there was no sign of the hooded bird.
The 30th Nov saw me back at Candles landfill, and amongst the 3,500 large gulls (roughly 10% HGs), I had an ad Caspian and 11 michs, as well as a couple of apparent hybrid HGxLBs. A week later, the numbers were 3,500 LBBs, 500 HGs, 7 michs and a 2cy Caspian at the tip, and the Chelmarsh roost the next day held 4,200 LBBs, 250 HGs, 9 michs and a different 2cy Caspian! This seems to be where a good proportion of the Telford gulls roost (along with Belvide).
As December progressed, the number of LBBs at the tip seemed to dwindle, whilst the number of HGs increased, and on the shortest day I estimated 2,000 LBBs and 1,000 HGs as well as 4 michs, but the Caspians stole the show, with November's adult and a new, huge 1cy! A few days later, another 1cy Caspian was found but I was unable to get out and see it, but that made it 5 Caspians at the tip in Dec! Is this the result of the autumn's influx in the east, with birds now trickling into the Midlands?

Friday, 4 January 2013

Lincs, late Dec 2012

A couple of days at work straight after the Christmas festivities made for a pleasant change of scenery, and the gulls put on a fine show. On 27th I made a quick trip to Kirkby on Bain, my last for a while as the nearby contract has come to an end, and was pleased to see c800 large gulls on the pit north of the tip, including a cracking ad Glauc.
A couple of oddities were present too, including a bird that whilst showing a few similarities to a 3w mich must surely have been a hybrid, based on mantle tone and structure.
The following day I was up in North Lincs, where the tractor that attracted the Thayer's Gull in April has been at work for several weeks on the wolds near Bonby. Incredibly there has been nothing amongst the hordes of mainly Herrings since an early juv Glauc in mid-November, but this time I picked up an elusive juv Iceland and a superb 1w Caspian. A couple of Meds, some stonking Argies and the odd freak made for some enjoyable hours watching.

Thursday, 3 January 2013


2012 wasn't a bad year for gulling, despite no Irish or Scottish trips for the first time in a while. It can be summed up in a word: THAYER'S. The discovery of Britain's second in a field in Lincolnshire on a break from working nearby will likely remain one of the highlights of my birding career. And less than a month after finding a 1w Bonaparte's Gull in Northumberland!

23 self-found Caspian Gulls wasn't a bad tally either, with some lovely juveniles in Norfolk in August and a bit of an autumn influx too.