Thursday, February 13, 2014

A Little Post

It’s a bit of a short post today for blog readers; hopefully the weather will improve soon and enable some thorough birding to take place. 

After the overnight 100mph winds I spent a while this morning up at Knott End where I hoped to see a few wind-blown Little Gulls. I wasn’t disappointed, and in the still strong winds managed to connect with at least six Little Gulls flying into the Wyre estuary, all of them continuing to fly upstream until they disappeared out of sight. 

Little Gull

The Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus is a small gull of about 11 inches in length, 24–31 inches wingspan and a weight of approximately 100 grams, gull proportions which could perhaps more accurately describe the species as “tiny”. 

It breeds in Northern Europe and Asia with small colonies in parts of southern Canada. It is migratory, wintering on coasts in Western Europe, the Mediterranean and in small numbers in northeast USA; in recent years non-breeding birds have summered in Western Europe in increasing numbers. As is the case with many gulls, it has traditionally been placed in the genus Larus. It is the only member of the genus Hydrocoloeus, although it has been suggested that Ross's Gull also should be included in this genus. 

Little Gulls are not resident in the UK; neither do they spend the summer or the winter here. However, they do pass through in spring and autumn, usually April. The Little Gulls we see here in the winter are thought to be from the population wintering off the east coast of Ireland, many birds often blown towards the west coast of England, even inland during severe winter storms. 

Little Gulls also occur hereabouts in April en route to their breeding grounds around Sweden, Norway, Finland and the Baltic Sea, an area that many reach by taking a direct route across the Pennines, the North Sea and then into the Baltic. 

Little Gull

For comparison with Little Gull here’s a common Black-headed Gull, 16 inches in length, c40 inches wingspan and a weight approximately 300 grams. 

Black-headed Gull

There wasn’t much else doing, a still rough old morning and not one suitable for searching for passerines. There were 18 Turnstones, 140 Lapwings and 4 Redshanks huddled on the shore, 18 Eider defying the strong swell of the sea and the usual 2 Pied Wagtails along the esplanade. 

Turnstones

More soon from Another Bird Blog.

Linking today to Eileen's Saturday Blog.

14 comments:

Stuart Price said...

Great Little Gull pics. Hope you don't get blown all the way to Yorkshire.......

eileeninmd said...

You are brave to go out birding in the wind. The Little Gull is gorgeous. Lovely sighting. I am hoping the snow will stop, so I can do some birding this weekend. Have a great day!

Ana Mínguez Corella said...

So Beautiful.. Congrats..

Kay L. Davies said...

So glad you survived the winds, Phil. I doubt if we would make it through 100mph winds, as we have two huge trees behind the house, and the prevailing winds from the west would knock them down onto us if we ever got a storm of that strength.
Love the photos. I've always loved gulls, and the idea of a Little Gull, when I spent most of my life with (at least near) big seagulls on BC's Pacific coast, is just wonderful. Miniatures. How wonderful.
But those Turnstones...like small brown rocks with legs as red as a black-headed gull's.
K

David Gascoigne said...

There is a small breeding colony of Little Gulls at Second Marsh in Oshawa, ON. It is indeed a delightful little gull!

Carole M. said...

it might be 'short' but still productive. Nice pics and commentary Phil

Mary Howell Cromer said...

I always adore the Turnstones ;) The Little Gull images are stunning Phil, what a lovely bird! WOW, that is some strong winds you have had there and do be careful traveling out and about. You might lose a hat ;) We of course have hurricanes along the East coast and here we can have tornadoes...both all very frightening. Where you live, do you get either of these kinds of nasty nature features? Happy weekend and be safe~

eileeninmd said...

Phil, Thank you for linking up with my critter party. Have a happy weekend!

Gunilla Bäck said...

The gulls are beautiful. Have a lovely weekend!

Rajesh said...

Beautiful shots of cute gulls.

Adam Jones said...

A super looking Little Gull, and I always like seeing the Turnstones. Great shots.

Karen said...

Excellent in-flight captures, and I love those red legs on the black-headed gull!

Wandering Wren said...

Hello Just a little Wren from Australia stopping by to admire your fabulous Gull photos! Roll on spring!

Wally Jones said...

A great summary of the Little Gull! How good looking!

Your photo of the group of Turnstones resembles my reaction to cold winds!

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