Thursday 20 February 2014


It's been a busy few days with a visit to Kent (to see friends not Pond Herons) returning to Dorset via various south coast sites. Yesterday, after staying with extended family in Hampshire, the children and their mum wanted to go to Paulton's Park. I was given the choice of joining them, or going birding before picking them up at the end of the day. Hmm, a tricky one. A whole day birding versus a whole day at a theme park. Just give me a minute to think about that...In the end I forsook the log flume and thought I would see if I could see 10 species of Gull in 24 hours. The results:
Glaucous Gull, Littlehampton. A 2nd winter bird - a striking plumage. This bird dwarfed everything around it and even when distant among hundreds of other large gulls on the breakwater by the River Arun could be picked out by its gleaming rear end.
Kumlien's Gull, Littlehampton - generally regarded as a sub-species of Iceland Gull, this bird has been present for a couple of weeks. Infamously variable in juvenile plumage, the wing-tips could look very dusky when at rest but came into their own as the bird took flight.

Herring Gull was easy enough, as were Black-headed, Greater and Lesser Black-backed Gull.
Common Gull - also easy enough, this one was at Walpole Park, Gosport, also the home of...
...the long-staying Ring-billed Gull, which was looking good. Or perhaps Gosport just made it look good.
Med Gull - quite a few of these at various south coast sites
Well I managed 9 species on Wednesday, but first thing this morning this Little Gull at Cogden made it 10 - technically still within 24 hrs of my gull quest starting yesterday morning.
Kittiwake at Cogden was a bonus 11th species for my 24 hours. I ran out of time to get back to Middlebere for Yellow-legged Gull and a round dozen!
With plenty of other white-winged gulls around, a Bonaparte's in Devon and a Laughing Gull in Cornwall, I reckon it would have been possible to see 14 species of Gull in a day on the south coast this week - 15 if you were fortunate enough to come up with a Caspian. There have also been 5 more species in Britain and Ireland since the turn of the year (Ivory, Franklin's, Ross's, Slaty-backed and American Herring) so for big listers with a Tardis it's theoretically possible to have seen 20 gull species in 2014 alone. Fancy that.

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