Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Another Gull First

There’s local news below but firstly, and after my news about the Herring Gull that likes to shop, comes exciting news about another species of gull – the Little Gull Hydrocoloeus minutus. It's a species which we don't see too often here in Lancashire unless there's a major storm in mid-winter.

Little Gull - Ekaterina Chernetsova from Saint-Petersburg, [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Chicks of the world's smallest species of gull have hatched for the first time in Britain at a bird reserve in Aberdeenshire. The hatching of two Little Gulls happened at RSPB Scotland's Loch Strathbeg site near Fraserburgh. This is the first time the species had been recorded raising young in Britain. A pair nested on a small island which is home to more than 130 pairs of Common Terns. 

Richard Humpidge, RSPB Scotland sites manager, said: "We were really excited to discover that the Little Gulls had successfully hatched. It wasn't long ago that the island was home to just 10 pairs of Common Terns that struggled to raise any chicks. Four years, hundreds of hours of help from volunteers and 10 tons of shingle later, there's more than 130 pairs of terns with lots of large tern chicks and now we've got two tiny Little Gull chicks as well - a first for Britain." 

As a contrast to the many reports of declining species it’s great to hear some positive news about a bird on the increase. 

Today I paid visits to Conder Green and Glasson Dock where I enjoyed a couple of hours of birding before the clouds rolled in. There are always birds to see at Glasson Dock where the unkempt nature of a working port coupled with the separate waters of the port itself and the adjoining yacht basin provide lots of opportunities for birds. Come the early morning quiet of late summer the vessels of all shapes and sizes provide lots of spots for Kingfishers to watch and wait.

Glasson Dock - Lancashire

Glasson Dock - Lancashire

It’s a fair stretch across the moorings where a tiny Kingfisher can be invisible against the dock sides or a dark hulled boat but where the single call or a sudden splash of water provides the evidence that a Kingfisher is around. This morning it was a tussle with a passing Swallow which drew my attention to the Kingfisher as it called in protest at a humble Swallow wishing to share the same spot. Having won the argument the Kingfisher sat for a while before flying across to sit along the rails which guard against pedestrians falling into the water after visiting the Victoria Hotel late at night.

I drove slowly to the far side of the dock from where the Kingfisher departed and to where it eventually returned - until it spotted my face and camera lens filling the car window. A Kingfisher is a genuine challenge to any budding photographer, a Swallow less so.



I found a decent selection of birds around the area, including 30+ House Sparrows, 8 Goldfinch, 1 Common Tern, 12 Swift, 4 Collared Dove, 2 Pied Wagtail, 1 Blackcap, 8 Blackbird, 2 Song Thrush, 8 Swallow, 4 Chaffinch, 4 Tufted Duck, 1 Great Crested Grebe and 1 Common Sandpiper. That’s pretty good entertainment for somewhere that many a birder might find uninspiring.

As I drove towards Conder Green a Sparrowhawk performed a flap-glide across the road ahead before disappearing into the caravan site. Sparrowhawks should be more visible in the next few weeks, a typical sort of date when they have young in the nest and when adults spend more time hunting to feed a growing family.


More Swifts were hunting above the Conder hawthorn hedgerow – about 30 or so. It seems to be a favoured morning feeding spot for the Swifts and Swallows and when insects take to the wing.

On the pool and in the creeks; 2 Common Tern + young, 3 Avocet, 7 Common Sandpiper, 3 Pied Wagtail, 1 Little Egret, 1 Grey Heron, 1 Teal, 3 Wigeon, 1 Shelduck and 1 Little Grebe.

Common Sandpiper

There was a single Teal today feeding quietly and apparently harmlessly along the muddy edge of the pool when an Avocet flew noisily at the duck and chased it out into the water. Avocets in a colony are known to be aggressively defensive and chase off any other species of birds that try to nest among or near them. Clearly one of the Conder Green pair also dislikes any bird which feeds along “its” stretch of water. No wonder then that the annoyed remark "Avocet - Exocet" is often heard from some British birdwatchers where Avocets have taken over similar wetland areas.

Avocets - The Crossley Guide to Britain & Ireland

We’ll have to keep a close eye on those Avocets. We don’t want them taking over Conder Pool to the exclusion of every other species do we?

Linking today to World Bird WednesdayAnni's Birding and Eileen's Saturday Blog


David M. Gascoigne, said...

How wonderful it is to hear of the breeding success of Little Gull. We have this bird in southern Ontario and it is known to breed in small numbers on the Great Lakes. If you remember Turkey Point, (was it named after you?), Phil, from your days at Long Point, that's the spot I usually see them in the spring. It's an enchanting little gull. Here it is easy to confuse them with the very similar Bonaparte's Gull until they raise their wing and display their dark axillaries. Great news! Hooray for the UK (for now). If Scotland were to separate it would be an EU bird wouldn't it?

Bob Bushell said...

You shot a Little Gull, brilliant Phil. And the Avocets, I love them.

Linda said...

Wonderful post and beautiful photos, Phil. Thanks so much for sharing this lovely tour.

Stuart Price said...

I used to see lots of Little Gulls at Seaforth, and sometimes on the Ribble too. Surprised they'd never bred before..........

Margaret Birding For Pleasure said...

great news about the Littl Gull bredding for the first time adn marvellous shots of it. Love the boats adn you managed to see and photograph a lot of birds. great shots Phil

eileeninmd said...

Hello Phil, good news on the gull. Great shots of all the birds. Happy Thursday, enjoy your day!

A Colorful World said...

Great sighting of the Little Gull!! The Avocet shot is so cool, and I love the boats on the dock as well as the other bird photos. Great post as always!

Lowcarb team member said...

Great to hear about the Little Gull.

Once again you have some great details in your post and your photo's are lovely.
I know it's a bird blog but I also liked seeing the boats and canal, lovely scenes.

Wishing you a good weekend

All the best Jan

eileeninmd said...

Hi PHil, great post! I just wanted to stop back and say thank you for linking up and sharing your post. Happy Saturday, enjoy your weekend!

carol l mckenna said...

Love the 'little gull' that you found and always magnificent wildlife shots here ~ Great photos!

Happy Weekend to you ~ ^_^

sandyland said...

I want to be there with an new camera

ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© said...

Wonderful news about the Little Gull, Phil.

Your pics are fantastic, as usual. Sandpipers in the waves at the beach always make me smile.

Rajesh said...

Very cute shots of the birds

merlecolibri said...

beaux reflets des bateaux et j'aime aussi beaucoup les oiseaux !

Anni said...

A little gull....I've heard of these, but have never seen one 'til you shared this photo. How awesome is that...and to be known to be breeding? Even better.

Always such a pleasure stopping by here. Your posts are definitely great to view/read.

Sharing your link at I'd Rather B Birdin' is always very much appreciated by all us birders...and I thank you.

betty-NZ said...

That is some great news to hear today. The bird shots are great. We have some of your goldfinches here in New Zealand, although they hang out in the paddocks mostly.

Kay L. Davies said...

The Little Gull is wonderful, Phil. What exciting news about the young ones.
And your boat photos...well, I always love photos of boats, but am thrilled to see a photo of narrowboats. My best friend and her husband live on a narrowboat not far from Rugby.
I'm so happy to be posting on Camera Critters again...saw your name there and realized I haven't checked with you lately. I hope you and Sue are both well.

Carol @Comfort Spring Station said...

Great news about the little gull. I thoroughly enjoy visiting you and seeing all the beautiful birds.

Fun60 said...

Beautiful photos of the kingfisher and hawk.

mick said...

Great news about the Little Gulls and a great series of photos. I also have trouble getting close to kingfishers for good photos. The beat success I have had is when I am in the car and photographing out a window. The reflections in the still water at Glasson dock are very beautiful.

Karen said...

Top shots as always!

Les Fous du Cap said...

Belle histoire pour cette première en Grande-Bretagne ;-)
Céline & Philippe

Judy Biggerstaff said...

Your Goldfinch just amazes me. So different than those in my area.

Ruth said...

The sparrowhawk is my favorite from the series. What a magnificent bird.

Adam Jones said...

News of the Little Gull success was indeed excellent news, as is your picture of it.

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