Friday, 16 February 2018

A Long Shingly Slog

It's been a long time since my last Glaucous Gull. Four years almost to the day in fact. I was still living in Seaton then and twitched this beauty which Tim Wright found on the Axe Estuary on 13 Feb 2014...

Shortly after I took this photo it departed, and I'm pretty sure there are no other published pics.

So when the urge for a long walk unexpectedly took hold of me this afternoon I decided to make my way from Burton Bradstock to West Bexington to see if I could jam the nice white Glauc that's been appearing recently at Bex.

It's a massive, shingly slog from Burton to Bex. Three miles of it. Bird-wise it was dead quiet until just before the West Bexington mere, where the sloping fields had attracted good numbers of small gulls. Mostly Common and Black-headed, but with the odd Med Gull dotted about, maybe six in all. On the distant mere itself I could see a small gang of Herring Gulls. No Glaucous though. I walked on.

Level with the mere now, I checked the Herring Gulls a little more carefully. I couldn't recall if Caspian Gull has occurred at Bex, but needless to say it's constantly on my radar these days. No such luck of course, so I had a quick scan to my right, where there were several Tufties and Shovelers, neither of which (especially the former) are exactly everyday ducks on the Axe patch. Glancing at the gulls again with my naked eye I realised that one of them was suddenly huge and white...

Spot the sore thumb

So, an excellent bit of jam after all. I didn't see the Glauc arrive but assume it flew in from the sea behind me (the mere lies just inland of the beach). After a nice, restful float it had a wash and then flew west for a short way before heading up over the shingle ridge towards the sea...

What a superb gull! Across the mere...
...and away.

Fantastic! Much more successful than I'd expected, particularly as I wasn't even sure that the Glauc was still about. And of course, you can never tire of Med Gulls. An adult and 1st-winter kindly dropped onto the mere for me...

So, that was it really. I carried on to the West Bexington car park, turned around for the return leg. It was a relief to now have the cold wind on my back instead of in my face, but the three-mile walk seemed no shorter. I hadn't gone far when the Glaucous Gull came past just offshore, heading east. I watched it until it was very, very small. It was still going. Apart from a couple of adult Meds on the beach the return journey was uneventful. Just very knackering...


  1. Always goog when a plan comes together Gav. Your next stated aim? Audouin's Gull!!

    1. Funnily enough Steve, even finding my own Audouin's Gull probably wouldn't top the whole August 2007 experience, which was just incredible. No, just a modest Laughing Gull for me please. That would plug a conspicuous gap in my otherwise complete list of local larids.

  2. Hi Gav,
    Same bird as Brixham on 13th Feb ... ? and possibly Prawle Point on 11th Feb ..

    1. Hmmm... Looking at the Brixham bird I would initially have said yes, it most probably is the Bex bird. My only reservation would have been the apparent less-than-perfect condition of its flight feathers, because those of the Bex bird look mint. Also there is a bit of unevenness in the tail (in both Chris Proctor's and Alistair King's photos) that is not evident on the Bex bird. However, I would be easily persuaded that this was all just photographic anomolies. The bill/face basically look identical in a side-by-side comparison. However, The Bex bird was first seen on Monday 12th Feb ( I'm not sure if it was still there on Tuesday 13th, but Mike Morse's comment on its presence today is that it has '...been around since Monday'. And even if it wasn't seen at Bex on 13th, I wonder the likelihood of a day-trip to Brixham and back?

      It's most inconvenient these Glaucous Gulls all looking so similar! There have definitely been two 2nd-winters at Bex (the first one still around and sadly tangled in fishing gear) but how many in Lyme Bay as a whole?