22 Jan 2010

Gulls at Gowy and flocks of Smew.

I'm  out of hospital from having my sinuses bored out so I can breath the fragrant aroma of tips now the gull watching season is upon us! Flock of Smew? When did that last happen in Cheshire! On my way to Gowy to check the gulls the message came through that there were now 2 Smew at Rostherne so I carried on straight down the M56 and was lucky enough to find Steve & Jill Barber in the hide and they kindly let me in. Definitely 2 redhead Smew as both were together but interestingly another bird flew from the east end. Unfortunatley the first two had gone to ground so we couldn't prover the three bird theory. Only the two bird one. With a support act of 2 female Goosander and a drake Mandarin (one of 4 present) it well worth the effort. Smew are one of my favourite birds and I remember hitching from my parents house in Suffolk to Abberton Reservoir in Essex aged around 14 to see my first one (along with a mate we also 'ticked' Red-necked Grebe that day). I can't resist Smew.

Returning to Gowy a search of the thousands of gulls present revealed a 1st winter Iceland Gull roosting in a field of winter wheat along with and adult and 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull. The times spent with the gull experts of Seaforth on Arpley tip is paying off. Cheers lads & I hope to catch up with you all soon.

I returned with the camera today to find a large flock of gulls close to the road whilst others loafed nearer to the tip.

This is the extreme left of the flock in the field that probably numbered 2,000 birds. Amongst them I again picked out the 1st winter Iceland Gull  but, as usual watching gulls, the unexplained 'dread' suddenly made them all fly up, circle round, mix themselves up and generally be a pain in the arse - twice!

Searching through the flock again the Iceland Gull had moved out of camera range but there were still some interesting birds present including this dainty looking long winged Lesser Black-backed that had me thinking 'fuscus' . Unfortunately it appears to be just a runt bog standard sub adult Lesser Black-backed.

Compare it to the bird on the right and with the bird below and you'll probably get the picture............

Compared to this bruiser it was positively tiny. This Greater Black-backed obviously knew I was watching from the open landrover window but wasn't a bit perturbed. Probably working out if Molly was edible or not.

Quite a few darker mantled argentatus Herring Gulls around as well:

Ringing Al Orton with the news about the Iceland Gull I headed home. Within an hour Al phoned back to say he'd not only got the Iceland but the juv Glaucous I first found on 8th Janaury. It is nice when someone else gets to see the birds you find!

The only other news concerns Stanney Woods where a Grey Wagtail is overwintering on one of the ponds deep in the wood and the Lesser Spotted-woodpecker was briefly seen with a roving tit flock this morning.

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