Saturday, 19 November 2011

Mediterranean Gulls at Alnwickhill: patch tick!

Alnwickhill will soon by drained, and the plans are to turn the area into housing. Someday soon I'll peer over the wall and the filter beds will be dry and my local gull and wildfowl watching will be over. Surely I can't be the only one to think that it would have potential as an urban nature reserve...

Opportunities to keep watch have been limited recently but today I managed a quick visit in the morning and then decided to stop by on my way to the coast in the afternoon. Well, I never made the coast as one of the first birds that I saw was a 1st winter Mediterranean Gull over on the far left of the filter beds. Viewing was distant but the bird obliged with a mixture of loafing, bathing and brief aerial sorties. Excellent patch tick as far as I am concerned - I was beginning to wonder why this species seemed to be so regular along the coast (albeit in small numbers) yet absent here despite a year or so of watching.

After 40 minutes of watching the bird, I decided to quickly check through the remaining gulls and then head for the coast. Turning to the filter bed in front of me I was delighted to find another 1st winter Mediterranean Gull in amongst one of the nearest groups of birds. A quick double check confirmed it was a second bird and the next 40 minutes were suddenly accounted for!

Notice that this second bird has a more extensive subterminal tail band than the first.

After filling my boots with these birds I decided to head for home on the off-chance of a flypast as the birds headed back for the coast for the evening. It turned out that this tactic was as unsuccessful as with the Iceland Gull earlier in the year. Ah well, maybe going for the garden tick was pushing my luck a little...


Poor Birding World said...

Well done on a very unusual multiple occurence away from the usual coastal spots.
1st winters are smart birds - only seen one before.
Had a "full house" that time - 1w, 2w, and ad at Musselburgh. Hope to see one with a full hood come feb/

Morg said...

Thanks for the comment PBW. My jaw did drop a little on finding the second bird - and a few choice words were uttered!

Popped up to Alnwickhill this morning but no sign. I think more gulls arrive at the site later in the day so they may be back.