Thursday, 17 December 2020

Last Knockings

The weather forecast was good for window cleaners today. Dry, a bit of sunshine, not too breezy, not too cold. A nice change from the wet, windy abysmalness which seems to characterise so many of our recent winters. Clearly a day on which to earn a few bob...

I first drove past the Axe Estuary around midday. There were far more gulls than I've seen there for a while. Many were small, and I didn't have time to do more than skim through those, but the big 'uns all got a proper look. Nothing. The knowledge that an Iceland Gull had dropped in at West Bexington this morning ensured I checked the gulls again later. And again.

Still nothing.

By now it's late afternoon. The light is dimming and I am literally on my way home. Via the estuary of course. A few large gulls on the far bank just N of the Seaton Marshes hide, so I pull over and hop out. A quick scan with bins, but again nothing of note. A couple of young gulls float past in the gloom, washing vigorously, and one of them looks rather white-headed. Sort of like a Caspian Gull. I watch it drift towards the distant shore and realise it might climb out onto the mud. Reaching into the car I extract my camera and fire it up. In this light, video is the only sensible option, so I steady the camera on my ladder, point it at the gull, zoom right up to 2000mm and press the red button...

I'd been watching the bird on the camera's viewing screen, and thought it looked quite promising for Casp, but it only gave me 35 seconds or so. Reviewing that brief clip in the car afterwards I was initially a bit unimpressed, and wondered if I'd been hoodwinked by a hybrid. So I lifted a few stills from the video for closer inspection. That cheered me up, and a prompt bit of positive feedback from Steve cheered me up some more. Not a classic bird perhaps, but lots of good features, and certainly enough to allay any fears that it might be a nasty hybrid thing.

A few video-grabs to illustrate some key ID features...

If you spot the deliberate mistake, should say '...and lower rump'


Once again I am reminded what a vital piece of kit my camera now is. Without it I would have a had a whole bunch of these: ???????????????

Funnily enough the last thing I expected my next NQS post to be about was a decent bird, but there you go. Life is full of nice little surprises, like one's 18th Caspian Gull.


  1. I find this sort of post fascinating. You make it all seem so easy and so obvious. It makes me determined to find my own Casp one day. But then the next time I see a load of gulls, I inevitably think "Oh dear!" and move quickly on. Anyway, thanks for all your posts over this past year, Gavin. I hope you and yours have a good Christmas, and I look forward to more of your gull evangelising in 2021. – Malcolm

    1. Thanks Malcolm. 😊
      Gulls provide me with so much enjoyment that I can't help getting a bit enthusiastic about them! If that rubs off a bit, I'm pleased. Yep, I'm sure there will be more gull evangelism next year too! 😄 👍

  2. Man and camera in perfect harmony. Great result.

    1. Thanks Dave. 😊
      That camera has made itself indispensable. Very clever of it! 😄

  3. You always produce inspiring blogs Gavin, loving this one. Stoford-Bob

    1. Thanks Bob, very kind of you to say so. Much appreciate your taking the time to communicate that sentiment. 👍