Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Ring-Billed Gull...

The weather the last couple days has been pretty horrendous with gale force winds and rain. The last week or so I have been trying to find the Ring-billed Gull again. This gull has apparently spent the last 8 or 9 winters in the Dingwall area frequenting the secondary school and boating pond near to Tescos. The gull usually goes unnoticed now with no regular reports on Rare Bird Alert and only occassional updates from a local birder on Highland and Moray bird forum. The last week has also seen some renewed interest with a few people visiting Dingwall and seeing the gull. I tried finding the gull around this time last year too with no luck. Several failed attempts at the school and the boating pond. I'm not keen on looking for the gull at the school as sitting in a car with binoculars and camera just feels a bit too dodgy for me! So I decided to focus on the boating pond where I had failed to find the bird twice already.

First a bit of information on why this bird is interesting to me if you are not familiar with the species. Not only would it be a new bird for me and the fact it is a gull species, the species does not naturally occur in Britain and is a scarce vagrant from North America with a handful of records of over-wintering birds each year. So really this would also be my first North American species albeit in the Britain (if you know what I mean).

So I headed to the boating pond in Dingwall this morning around noon, picking up a couple cheap loaves from Tescos on the way. The weather was on and off heavy showers and very windy and by the time I arrived it was chucking it down. I waited a few minutes for the rain to ease off and walked around to the pond. Not a gull in sight first of but after throwing some bread around they arrived quick enough. They are easily drawn in from the roofs of both the school over the road and Tesco. Within a couple minutes there must have been a hundred gulls flying around and I didn't think I had much chance in spotting the Ring-billed with the conditions, 100 gulls being blown around and the fact that I am no expert. After throwing some bread out and stepping back a bit they started to settle down, coming down to the ground to feed. Plenty of Black-head Gulls and Herring Gulls and I tried to keep a look out. Did this a couple times and most of the gulls seemed to get bored and flew back towards the school for more interesting pickings. It was then a gull obviously smaller than the Herring Gulls was flying overhead. It took awhile but it eventually came down to the ground to feed and there it was the Ring-billed Gull. It gave great views inbetween showers and came to within 10 metres. So I am very pleased and my second lifer for the year and a nice way to end January. Some pictures below.

Year List Additions:
60. Ring-Billed Gull (Lifer)

Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)

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