Sunday, 15 April 2012

Irish gulls are always classy

1w Iceland gull in Bantry harbour

2012 started in much the same way as 2011 ended, fairly quiet locally, but enough nationally to keep hopeful. The highlight of January was a weekend away with Cat, when I somehow managed to sneak in the time to see the western sand at Cley and the Spanish sparrow and dark-eyed junco in hampshire (she's such a lucky girl), although i did bugger my scope dipping the fudge duck at Blashford lakes.

The year really started to pick up when storms in the north atlantic caused huge wrecks of Iceland gulls on the west coast of Ireland and the Northern isles, which eventually led to decent numbers spread through the rest of the UK. Effort at the local tip was increased, and I found a very small adult Iceland, then Tim weighed in with a couple of Casps, before the floodgates truly opened, and white-wingers started popping up all over the place locally. I reckon I have seen about 10-12 different white-wingers this winter personally in the York area, and there were clearly more individuals than that knocking around. Myself and Chris Gomersall worked out we had seen 9 different Iceland gulls, of all ages except 3+4w (maybe just lack of attention), and 3 different Glaucs. Pretty impressive stuff.

Despite this, the truly astounding numbers coming from places like Killybegs were still very tempting, and I decided to tag along on a trip to Ireland already arranged by Rich Bonser and Alan Clewes. In total that trip, we had 150 white-winged gulls including 5 Kumlien's, and other good birds in the form of Todd's canada goose (found by JJ on an earlier trip), 3 Richardson's canada geese, black brant found by Alan and a scattering of ring-billed gulls. The residing memory of the trip will always be the regularity in which we found ourselves looking at flocks of white-wingers in harbours and beaches, and the excitement and confusion of trying work out counts, when often birds were seemingly everywhere, whilst also commonly having several extremely confiding birds to study and photograph.

Not gull photos:

Ok, there is a glauc in this one, couldn't get away from them...

Rich doing what he does best.

Gull photos (in no particular order):

Castletown Bearehaven, Cork:

Reenard Point, Kerry:

Bantry, Cork:

A very unconvincing 'Kumlien's' in Stab city:

Compulsory visit to Nimmo's pier, Galway

Somewhere else in Ireland:

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