Champions of the Flyway!

Wednesday, December 27, 2017

Scandinavian Herring Gulls, Filey Dams - 27th Dec 2017

A cold northerly blow and wintry showers overnight and during the day today, and a couple of hours free locally - firstly for an hour or so's bay/seawatch from the car on the seafront, and latterly for an hour or so at the Dams. Not a great deal on the move over the sea, although a smart 1cy Glaucous Gull and at least two Scandinavian Herring Gulls made it worthwhile, and with a big high tide and rough seas, the newly-expanded freshwater of the Dams seemed worth a shot for bathing gulls.

And it was. As well as the beast of Glaucous Gull that dropped in for 15 minutes or so while the sleet came straight into the hide (see next post), Scandinavian - i.e. argentatus - Herring Gulls were immediately conspicuous. Just to contextualise, they're a rare but regular visitor in the winter months (almost always during and after such conditions) here, although almost always in the lower single figures at best. It's likely more occur, but a combination of under-recording, under-awareness and the lack of opportunity to nail 'clear-cut' birds as they pass the Brigg means they remain a novelty in the annual report, and almost always from the coast.

However, a quick scan of the small Larid flock on the freshly-created main lagoon revealed at least five distinctly darker-backed birds, interestingly four of which were clustered together; over the course of the next hour, I recorded at least eleven clearly legit argentatus (on combinations of mantle colour, wing-tip pattern and size/shape) and several others were either too brief or not conclusive. And that's a lot - in fact a record away from saltwater at Filey - boding well for similar checks in similar conditions through the winter here.