Saturday, 7 January 2012

Dump comes up trumps

The morning started off well with 2 Hawfinches at Llanbedr-y-Cenin. This species has been difficult to catch up with this autumn, so it was a relief to finally get one. The rest of the day was spent looking at gulls. There seemed to be many more around today than there were last weekend and careful scanning of the flocks along the coast finally came up trumps. A lovely 1st winter Iceland Gull was with 50 or so Herring Gulls behind the Thorncliffe recycling centre, between Abergele and Rhuddlan. This is a site I've been keeping an eye on as it brings in a regular movement of gulls from the coast, sometimes many 100's. These fields held a number of big butch northern 'argentatus' Herring Gulls too. The 'white winger' then flew towards the coast and after following it, the sight that greeted me at Kinmel Bay made my heart race; many thousands of gulls strewn all along the coast towards Rhyl. I walked out to the low tide mark and grilled as many as I could in the fading light - lots of interesting ones, including a 1st winter Caspian candidate which got my heart racing. No picture of that I'm afraid as it quickly disappeared into the 'gull' frenzy before I managed to get the camera out. However, I did take a couple of pics of argentatus birds and a few interesting 'white' headed Herring 1st winters such as the ones shown above. I wish I'd already been on Martin Garner's gull course - i certainly needed it today!


  1. Good find with the Iceland Marc! Just love the venetian blind effect you get with the 1st winters - truly beautiful birds.

    With an adult at Pontllyfni today, the 1w at Pwllheli and an 'immature' at Criccieth last week I wonder how many are in the area?

    I've been grilling the gulls locally of late - a sporadic interest that ocurs most winters ;-)

    Notice a lot of 1w Herring are moulting and becoming rather white-headed; like your 1w michahellis type in the photo above.

    Reaching for the gull Bible, Olsen & Larrson (even the revised edition!); there's so much conflicting information! Many elements of the text - e.g. features described as indicative of michahellis are then shown on photos of birds labelled argenteus etc. It's the same with the plates. Bloody frustrating - like a fiendish cryptic crossword! Give me something easier to ID - a nice adult Ross's Gull would do.

    Maybe I should get along to one of the Gull Masterclasses sometime.

    Anyway, thanks for the images keep up the good work.

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  3. Nice find Marc, no sign of the Iceland when I called in later but at least I ticked off the Thorncliffe site and know where to look now. Like you I carried on to the coast but no sign of the white-winger at the Llandulas outflow or Pensarn. Hopefully it will hang around for a while.

  4. Hi Marc. Great find and great video. Looks like my kind of birding! So the video was taken at Kinmel Bay on the falling/low tide I presume? Which I think is in the afternoon at the moment? If that lot stay around I'm hoping to get over one day next week and take a look.

  5. Hi David, the video was taken at horton's nose (where the snow bunts are). I walked as far as I could to the low water Mark along the breakwater. Low tide is during late afternoon this week. Good luck.

  6. No sign of the Iceland gull during the high tide roost at the recycling centre today, but 650+ Herring type there to look through. There really should have been something better amongst them.