Friday, 5 February 2016

Gulls Galore!!

As I'm more than happy to tell most of my birding friends, I don't do gulls. I've never had a good track record of twitching new gulls, so far I've managed to dip Ross's(several times), Ivory, Audouin's (several times), Thayers, Slaty-backed and Glaucous-winged, even though I've managed to catch up with all but the last 2, you can understand my lack of desire to travel too far for gulls full stop! However, as I'm trying to do a bit of a year list, I've got to at least have a go and with the vast number of gulls present at Rufforth, on the outskirts of York, I thought I'd have a go.

Having never visited the site before, I did a bit of internet trawling and it seemed that the airfield itself was a good bet so I headed here first. On arrival there were only a few Herring Gulls so I headed to the fields near the tip.

I could immediately see the massive flocks of gulls flying over the tip itself and roosting in the adjacent fields.

The search begins!

Despite the huge numbers of gulls present, I was fairly confident that I'd be able to pick out one of the many Caspian Gulls that had been present in the area recently and if I got lucky, hopefully one of the Glaucous Gulls would still be about. Unfortunately there were no other birders around when I first arrived but started to scan. Viewing from the adjacent footpath, the gulls were easily spooked but soon settled again. Within half an hour, I'd managed to pick out a Caspian Gull in one of the smaller side flocks so was quite pleased.

Caspian Gull

After a while, several other birders arrived and soon more Caspians were picked out, none of which I actually managed to get on, but also a Glaucous Gull and apparent 'Viking' Gull, that one I definitely had to leave to the experts, as distinctive as it was.

Glaucous Gull (second bird from back)

Apparent Viking Gull (Herring x Glaucous) 
central bird above adult Herring Gull

Having to be back for the school pick up, I thought I'd better make a move and headed off. With the Great Skua still present nearby at Wheldrake, I thought I'd have time for a little detour! 

Having never visited the reserve before, I was fairly lucky to bump into some locals who could point me in the direction of the first hide, where it had last been seen. I headed off along the muddy paths as quickly as I could without slipping over, with one eye constantly on the watch, worrying I wouldn't make it back in time for pick ups! On the way I bumped into Duffbirder, it was good to talk to Alan, if only briefly, hopefully catch up one day on a twitch. He said the skua was still present, so I carried on. Although not on view straightaway, the Great Skua soon flew in and rested on the water in front of the hide, also present were huge numbers of duck which included quite a few Pintail

All in all a good day, four more year ticks to keep the lists going, 2 of them gulls and I even made it back in time to pick the kids up, phew!!

British Year List: 98
Yorkshire Year List: 82

Yorkshire Life List: 271 (Caspian Gull and Glaucous Gull)

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