Monday, 8 November 2010

Small, but perfectly formed

After yesterday I was getting withdrawal symptoms as I hadn't managed to get out in the dreadful weather to take some photos and do a bit of birding. Today was torrential, but I decided to take a look at the Bay.

The superb car park, presumably paid for out of our local taxes, makes a good paddling area for Black-headed Gulls, and in the deeper puddles they are able to bath in the fresh water.

A couple of Herring Gulls stood around on the sea wall, looking as appreciative of the abject weather as I felt. At least one Rock Pipit was flying about, but it didn't stop within range of my lens.

While I was watching a group of Black-headed and Common Gulls I noticed a couple of different birds nearby. One was a first winter Sandwich Tern that move off and didn't reappear and the other was one of my favourite Gulls.

Way back in time when I was a first year student at Manchester I had a couple of days at Spurn Bird Observatory with a friend from university. It seems crazy now, but when we found a Little Gull it emptied the observatory common room as every one went to see it. At that time, 1961, Little Gulls were a scarce visitor to the east coast in autumn but since then they have become far more common and at times occur in large numbers, particularly on the west coast.

I was surprised that this bird still seemed to have quite a large amount of black on the head, but checking other photos they do actually retain almost half a black head in winter. It breeds in northern Europe, mostly in Russia and Finland and is spreading westwards with some now Breeding in Norway and Sweden. It has bred in England (Ouse Washes in 1975) but has never become established. Watching them at a colony in Finland a few years ago was one of the highlights of the trip.

The most striking characteristic of this bird was the dark wing linings. Even in the semi-dark the white border to the wings was striking. This is the smallest gull in the world, and compared to terns in is very round winged, giving it a very dainty flight.

These pictures are a bit rubbish as I had to use ISO 1600. It was so dark that the automatic headlights on Pam's car came on without being asked!

1 comment:

Phil said...

Just goes to show that even in the worst weather there are things to see for those who have the get up and go, to get up and go!
I must try harder!!