Thursday, 11 February 2021

Refrigerated Birds

With daytime temperatures barely above zero, and an evil wind-chill, work is off the table right now. So this afternoon I wrapped up well and went for a long walk around West Bexington. It was brilliant. Freezing cold, but brilliant. At one point there was no-one at all visible on the beach east of me, and the nearest people the other way were at Burton Bradstock. Umpteen miles of deserted shingle. Heaven. Although we've had no proper snow locally, there was evidence of at least some cold-weather movement, with Lapwings, Golden Plovers and Snipe dotted here and there. Totals were 38 Lapwings, 81 Golden Plovers (biggest flock 55) and 14 Snipe. The Snipe kept popping out of random wet bits, typical of birds just looking for somewhere soft enough to probe. A nice first-for-the-year was Mistle Thrush, with two on a sloping meadow. A few snaps...

Golden Plover catching a bit of sunshine.

Redwing, Mistle Thrush and a few Linnets.

The other Mistle Thrush.

I left the beach till last, and walked it with the wind on my back. The icy blast appears to have scoured every bird from the sea, which was empty. However, once I got level with the Mere it was obvious where they'd all gone. A good 500+ large gulls, some on ice, some on the open water. Bliss! I only had bins, so in order to do them properly, yet not spook them, I crept up the shingle slope from the seaward side, crawling the last bit and lying prone on the top. They edged away a bit, but didn't flush. It was worth the effort...

The fifth bird from the left... Only a slightly darker shade of grey than the Herring Gulls, but that's sufficient to make it stand out. Yellow-legged Gull.


I shifted to a better position and took some more photos...

Despite the rather immature bill, the almost entirely grey coverts and hint of primary mirror age it as a 3rd-winter rather than 2nd-winter.

A Yellow-legged amongst the Herrings. It was 16:30 and cloudy, perfect for assessing the relative greyness of greys in a sea of grey. Not so perfect for low ISOs and fast shutter speeds.

I am rather chuffed to see another Yellow-legged Gull so soon after the rather lovely West Bay adult. And it did the decent thing and stuck around for a few photos. I spent too long with the gulls really. By the time I got home it was pretty dark.


  1. The thought of commando crawling on shingle today does not fill me with envy, I think you are mad - but in a good way. Well done, I hope the shrinkage has returned to normal ;o)

    1. And I didn't even mention having to empty a ton of shingle out of each welly afterwards, did I?! The hardships we endure for birding...

      Yes, it was a bit nippy. 😄