Tuesday, 14 July 2020

Gull Fix

It was nice to visit East Bexington again today. It's been a while, and I was well up for a late afternoon stroll along the Burton Road towards West Bex. Things have changed a bit since I was here last. All the cereal crops have been harvested, and there are now acres of stubbly fields to get excited about. I don't know how long they'll be in this state, but a few months I hope! Anyway, my principal interest today was the sea, so it was good to see plenty of activity out there. Lots of Med Gulls and Common Terns were passing, and I spent a pleasant hour sitting on the beach being entertained by them. Several pulses of Swifts went by, and at least 30 Sand Martins. Best of all though was this...

This unseasonal Great Northern Diver might well be the first I've seen in July

Initially it was quite distant, and feeding constantly. It was only on the surface for seconds at a time, so picking it up with the camera was really tricky. Gradually it came closer though, finally loafing about for a few minutes at reasonable range before heading out again. It hasn't finished growing new flight feathers yet, so I guess it might be around for a while.



By the time I was nearly back at the car park it was gone 7pm, and I thought birdy thrills were done for the day. Wrong. A few big gulls were wheeling around over the shingle, and I casually raised my bins for a quick look. Ooh! Is that a juv?? It was, and as it banked I got an eyeful of black and white tail. It was a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull...which promptly disappeared over the beach ridge towards the sea. I've been really looking forward to my first juv Yellow-legged Gull of the year and didn't want this chance to slip through my fingers, so forced myself into a sort of shuffly trot up the shingle to the top. It was worth it...

It's the shiny new one on the left


Gulls aren't for everyone, I know, but for me these contrasty beasts are a real treat. Much more neat and crisp than the gingery juv Herring Gulls which will be everywhere pretty soon.

I've included the next couple of photos in order to illustrate an ID feature which I've always found useful on juv YLGs. It's the white area around the upper mandible. When viewed head on, it gives them a white-nosed appearance. It's just a minor feature really, but quite helpful when picking birds out at range if they're facing you.

Juv YLG showing 'white nose'
Really not dross.

When it decided to head for Portland I managed to fluff the flight shots, but hopefully there will be a few more of these beauties to come. Heading for home, I was a happy chap...

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