Monday, November 30, 2009


The brightest, sunniest day for a month and I am full of the Common Cold, waking up feeling like you know what, absolutely typical. Tomorrow I will fill myself with Beecham’s Powders and anything else I can find and go out whatever the weather. In the meantime I apologise in advance that the page below contains pictures of gulls.

OK I confess I don’t spend as much time looking at gulls as I used to and sometimes I feel a little guilty at not being a real gull enthusiast. The problem is that if there’s a wet field or a shore with plenty of waders, or a line of hedgerows that might hold a mix of passerines, I prefer to grill them rather than a myriad of gulls that don’t do a lot other than patter across a soggy field, sit around for long periods or simply fly off into the distance just as you focus in on the finer points of the tertials or lesser coverts.

My own lack of gull awareness was brought home to me last week when in the same morning Ian found both a Glaucous Gull and a Yellow-legged Gull at Fleetwood, which of course followed his earlier discovery some weeks before of a Ring-billed Gull. That’s the problem with Ian; he is a bit persistent, regularly finding oddities or rarities around his Fleetwood hot spots where he often leaves a trail of DABs behind him. But on the positive side, at least we know where he’s been lately when a few unknown birders appear. But until the Glaucous is found again, almost certainly not by me, here’s a picture of Glaucous Gull and for good measure, a Glaucous-winged Gull, then as a special treat an Ivory Gull, all courtesy of the US Fish and Wildlife Service.

Let’s hope this latest Glaucous Gull returns soon and becomes a bit of a celebrity like “Biffer”, the adult that for many years used to turn up at Fleetwood each back end for a winter break. He or she terrorised the local gulls to earn the nickname, but was always obliging enough to give local birders an easy yearly tick out on the beach, at the power station or near the “Fishy”, the fish processing plant that strangers to the area could easily find.

Of course when Fleetwood Power Station was a power station I used to spend happy hours there perusing the gulls that moved between the roadside, the tip, the shore and the pools but I think that my activity came to a halt when the tip started to wind down, I moved “Over Wyre” or I decided to get a life.

It was on this side of the River Wyre in civilisation that I caught up with the regular Glasson Dock Yellow-legged Gull a couple of times when looking at the waders from the wall at the back of the Victoria, having stifled my yawns enough to then concentrate on parties of autumn Dunlin, Redshank, Knot and Golden Plover or to search for Curlew Sandpipers. I dug out a picture of Yellow-legged Gull from Menorca where of course they are extremely common but where waders are hard to come by, unless you count Black-winged Stilt, Kentish Plover or Collared Pratincole. I regret I don’t have a picture of the Balearic speciality Audouin’s Gull but I’ll do my best in May when I lounge around the swimming pool at the hotel where the Audouins visit to drink the chlorined water.

However as compensation for the lack of a photo of there’s a picture of Victor Audouin the French Ornithologist after whom the other gull is named

Ring-billed Gull is a good discovery in the Fylde so anyone who finds one deserves a pat on the back for their skill and persistence when we consider how many there are in North America and the number that probably go unfound over here. Here’s an old slide I dug out from Niagara Falls where the Ring-bills number in their thousands and where it’s them that snaffle your chips (fries) from the picnic tables rather than Llandudno Herring Gulls. After that picture is another Ring-billed, then a Laughing Gull, both pictures taken on the powdery white sand of Cancun beach in Mexico while sipping a Pena Colada. Although gulls there don’t have it all their own way thanks to the Magnificent Frigatebirds who terrorise the gulls and make skuas look almost angelic.

And just for good measure to show I’m not prejudiced against gulls, there are pictures of a Kittiwake on a boat off Fleetwood, a fine Lesser Black-backed Gull telling everyone who is boss and a serene Black-headed Gull, all of them doing what gulls do best, posing.

There, that’s expunged my Gull Guilt, now I can get back to some proper birds.

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