2 Mar 2014

Yankee Doodle Larus Dandy

American Herring Gull. Depending if your a larophile or a larophobe its either an enigmatic species or a shit bird. They're also hard to identify outside of juvenile or first winter plumage and there's been several birds resembling this species seen in Cheshire over the years that have not been submitted because the full suite of identification features hasn't been photographed.

Roll on February 2014 when Dan Brown found a nailed on classic 1st winter 'Smithsonian' up near Campbeltown on the Mull of Kintyre - bloody miles away! photo's showed it to be a classic with pale head, Glauc type bill, chocolate brown underparts with the requisite heavily barred under tail coverts, upper tail coverts and an almost all dark tail. Plans were made and then changed and changed again but I eventually met up with Fred & Pod at Avian Ecology's Cheshire HQ at 11.30pm and we set off for the arduous drive.

Sharing the driving we arrived in Campbeltown  harbour around 6 am and dozed for an hour or so listening to the lapping waves and the buzz saw sound of Pod snoring!

As soon as it got light we looked around the harbour area and soon realised the bird wasn't around and as the light got better the birds started dispersing inland. We followed and knowing the gulls were feeding on flooded pastures we headed out in a loop checking the likely areas. Eventually Fred picked it up and we spent the next 3 hours chasing the gulls as they moved from pasture to flooded pasture.

After a few hours we decided to have another look at the rafts of Eider and Black Guillemots in the harbour before setting off for home.

We headed north to Rhunahaorine Point where a couple of Snow Geese had been seen with the Greenland Whitefronted Geese and soon found the two birds - a white phase and intermediate phase.

Looking at the maps before setting off on our trip we realised we could save some mileage by getting a couple of ferries. Time-wise it would take the same time but two ferry this sounded much more relaxing so we headed to Tarbert where we had some warming soup before getting the ferry across to Portavedie then driving through the hills to Gourock and getting the ferry across to Dunoon. Arriving just outside Port Glasgow at 17.00 we hit a bit of traffic before getting on the M74 and having a relatively smooth journey home.

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