Sunday, 8 January 2012

A Glaucous in a haystack...

As mentioned before I have been trying to improve my gull ID skills lately and it was reported recently on the Highland & Moray Birds forum that a Glaucous gull had been since around the fish factory at the Dingwall business park so I thought I would have a go and try and locate it.

I left the house at around 11:00am and headed to the Dingwall Business park. I pulled up at the front and started scanning the rooftops, there were gulls everywhere, and nothing like the stench of fish on a Sunday morning to make you feel alive. It was one of those overcase grey drizzly days but I persisted. At first it was a bit overwhelming as I had never even seen a Glaucous in the flesh before but I started by just looking for something that looked "different". So far no luck, so I moved around to the back of the factory and away from the puzzled glances of our Polish imports. At the back was a much better view of more gulls but again it was difficult to pick anything out with the poor light and the fact that they kept getting disturbed every few minutes. I was able to pick out Herring, Great Black-backed and Lesser Black-backed but after 45mins I was about to give up when I happened to look at 3 large gulls on the roof of the building accross the road from the front, so I made my back around with a large skein of geese flying over and a Wren in the hedgerow (my first of the year) seen on the way. As I came back into view of the 3 gulls they were still there and it was obvious one was slightly larger and paler. I kept moving closer and got a half decent view of the gull and some record shots and I was fairly certain I had found a Glaucous! Upon returning home later that day I had it confirmed online, my first Glaucous Gull, probably a 1st-winter and my second life tick this year. The Glaucous breeds in Arctic Regions and a few hundred are seen each year during winter in the UK and Ireland And you know what? This gull stuff is good fun and addictive.

Glaucous Gull & 1st-winter Herring Gull
Probably 1st-winter Glaucous - Larus hyperboreus
I decided to check out some other gull "hotspots" in Dingwall, the boating pond in Pefferside Park and the Academy. Pefferside park was fairly quite but a Red Kite flew over and a Grey Wagtail (another first of the year) was spotted near a large puddle before flying off. There was a few Herring and Black-headed Gulls but nothing else of note and the Academy was even more quiet with just a few Herring Gulls. Overall though an enjoyable couple of hours.

Adult winter Black-headed Gull
I've noticed that this blog has had a few visitors now from UK and further afield. Please leave a comment if you feel like it, it would be nice to hear from some of you about what you think.

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