Thursday, 30 January 2014

Rufforth, 30th Jan 2014

Following the veritable gullfest at York's mega tip earlier in the week, I couldn't resist a trip up after work elsewhere in the county. I arrived to hear that the infamous airfield, where the views are so good, had been subject to disturbance all morning, and as a result the many thousands of gulls were spread over various fields, as well as the tip itself. But there was good news too - the 4cy Kumlien's Gull was on show straight away. Very nice to get in on this winter's influx. A dinky ad Glauc made an appearance as well, followed by a very pale 2cy Viking Gull. Not bad.

Monday, 27 January 2014

Candles and Granville, 27th Jan 2014

After far too long away from the gulls (aside from a brief look at an impressive 2,400 large on the Buildwas floods on 13th which included the 1w Casp again and 6 michs (2 ads, 4cy, 3cy, 2 2cy)), it was time for a proper look for once. Unfortunately the River Severn has dropped and the floods have receded, meaning there is no reason for the gulls to use Buildwas any more, and even the tip itself was quiet. A steady trickle of gulls overhead, however, led me to a flock of c700 in a random grassy field nearby, but after only a couple of quick scans something spooked them and they dispersed. A single ad mich was my only reward.
Deciding on a drive around, I checked Horsehay and Priorslee but both were gull-free, and so I decided to drive down to Granville on the off chance. An adult Glauc had roosted at Belvide last night, which would have been nice. The sight of several hundred gulls greeted me, but an attempt at gaining permission to watch them was denied. A bit of sniffing around nearby fields followed, and I soon came across c1,200 large gulls loafing in a couple of fields by the crematorium off the A5. They were close, but views were tricky through the hedges, and it never quite felt like everything could be checked.

Eventually however a smart character materialised at the front of the flock - a new 2cy Caspian Gull. A nice bird, but there was something just not quite right about the head, and the greater coverts were a little more barred than you might like. However nothing put it outside the boundaries of what we increasingly realise to be a variable beast, just like all other large gulls. The silvery scaps with fine brown anchors, the worn brown coverts and tertials, the clean white underparts and hanging belly, and the long slender bill with a paler base all fitted the model, and a brief flight (alas captured only on my iPhone) revealed a perfect tail and an underwing that was certainly pale.

Saturday, 4 January 2014

Buildwas and Candles, 3rd Jan 2014

Delicious but distant - "field views photos"
More time had passed than intended since my last visit to the local tip, but that's Christmas for you. During the intervening time it had rained seemingly continually, and so as I hurried down the Severn valley, expansive floods opened out on my right, and I had a sudden sense of deja vu, back to this day exactly a year ago. Just like then, c300 large gulls were loafing opposite Buildwas, and amongst them was a Caspian! This time though it was a stonking 1st-winter with a gleaming white head and long skinny bill. Superb. After a few minutes the flock was flushed by nearby shots, and swirled north, towards the tip.

Up the hill there were only c300 gulls on the tip in the wind, but they included a super-smart ad mich and the recent "poor man's Ivory Gull" -a pure white leucistic LBBG. First time I'd seen it, and it was a belter. Later on the Casp appeared, but never settled. It looked fantastic in flight, pot-bellied and long-necked with dazzling underwings, and added itself to the list of such birds that made me wish I had a DSLR over my shoulder...
Another go the following day was frustrating, but the tip produced 3 michs (ad, nr-ad and 2cy).