Tuesday 25 October 2011

Angel from the North

Spent my first proper morning in some time down at Dogsthorpe Tip today, primarily targetting Caspian Gulls and any Yellow-legged Gulls that might still be hanging on from the annual summer influx. As I was driving to the tip, I thought about the mini-arrival of white-winged gulls that seems to have happened in the far northwest over the past week or so - perhaps this year is going to be a bit better for them after two incredibly lean winters?

What didn't occur to me was that I'd find one today in Peterborough, but that's exactly what happened. Naturally, there were a few expletives when this massive white apparition emerged from amongst several hundred large gulls in fields south of the tip:

A monster of a second-winter Glaucous Gull; by far my earliest ever in the Peterborough area (I've never seen one before December) and one of very few around in England right now - I can't recall many aside the 'resident' birds in Kent and Devon...

Soon afterwards (this was c.10:30), most of the birds got up out of the field and dispersed, many heading for the tip but some elsewhere. In the following three hours of grilling the tip, I couldn't relocate the ghostly beast but did score a single 1st-winter mich, as well as one or two interesting looking gulls below:

Dark and smudgey 2w Herring, with dark coverts and chocolatey tertials - if it wasn't for the structure, tail and UTC/rump pattern then one could almost look towards 2w Azorean Gull, which do come this dark pretty regularly.

Really dark adult argentatus, approaching graellsii as well as the Rainham Slaty-backed!

Juv/1w Lesser Black-backed Gull, presumably intermedius as perhaps a little large and long-legged to claim a candidate fuscus; only saw this thing briefly so hopefully better luck with it later in the week.

Eventually, the Glaucous Gull was relocated at 13:25, back in the same field as earlier. I decided a bit of off-roading was necessary to get a few closer shots, so drove down the track leading south from the road. The result were pornstar views but, on such an unseasonably warm day, heat haze was making photography problematic at best, and thus results aren't really up to scratch given the close range of the bird:

Really good start to the 'winter'...

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