Monday, 27 February 2017

Gulls Galore

I decided to cycle to Tower hide yesterday as I've neglected it in recent weeks and there seemed to be the possibility of some interesting gulls what with strong SSW winds and rain approaching from that direction. From 14:30 to 15:30 it seemed as if the gulls were determined to prove my theory wrong as often happens. Just a few were loitering about but no white-wingers; not even a Med about. Then, at 15:30, just when I was thinking about leaving, a large flock of B.H. Gulls flew downriver and landed between the hide and Coronation Corner. As they landed, I saw 2 adult Mediterranean Gull among them. Looking North again, I realised that more flocks were approaching and decided to keep checking them for more Meds. Very soon I was in double figures and a few texts to local birders tempted Ian McLean to abandon the rugby and join me. In just an hour, at least 6,000 gulls flew in from the North. I counted at least 18 Meds ( 15 adults, 2 2ndWinter & 1 1stWinter) but may have missed one or two as from 16:00 to 16:30 the stream of gulls was so huge and incessant that it was impossible to check them all. Then, at 16:30, it stopped as suddenly as it had started! I would say that 5,000 BHG and 300 Common Gull were involved with this 'swarm'. Herrings were at their normal level and just a few of each black-back were about (although a couple of Lessers looked like intermedius types). I wouldn't be surprised if the true number of Meds was 20+ - an exceptional occurrence for the Axe - as my breakdown of the definite 18 seems a little 'adult-heavy'. Being overwhelmed by the sheer number of birds in a short time I suppose it's easier to pick out the adults and even 2nd Winters quickly whereas 1st Winters require decent views to eliminate Commons for sure. All in all, an exciting hour or so if you enjoy witnessing dramatic movements of large numbers of birds. Can't help wondering if there was a rarity in there somewhere though...

1 comment:

  1. Hi Tim, great observations I wish I had witnessed this too. Absolutely nothing wrong with your age ratios as this is peak migration time for adults, for example fifteen on the Axe on 18/2/09 included just two second winters, the rest being adults. Add to this that first winters have been really scarce this winter.