Saturday 18 February 2012


I was near The Scrub and contemplating aborting the visit as rain started to set in this afternoon when I picked up a beautiful and wholly unexpected pair of Red Kites as they slowly drifted past in the inclement weather. It started getting heavier and I called dad to see if he'd pick me up and give Holmethorpe a quick go before going home.
Red Kites
My main quarry was the Scaup - I'd gone to see what was probably the same bird a few weeks ago but opinion briefly swayed to it being a hybrid. I went to see it again anyway just in case it was a different bird. On arrival, the first bird that caught my eye was a large, white-winged first-winter gull. Its bill was reminiscent of Glaucous Gull but was 'dirty' and less clean-cut in appearance. Alas, it was a either a hybrid or a northern Herring Gull. I couldn't find it again when I went round to the other side of the lake to get a better look but I did succeed in picking out the first-winter drake Scaup - yay local area tick! It's an interesting bird, having a little extra but slightly faded black on the nail of the bill (which is the reason for questions being raised as to its purity) but apparently this is fine for a first-winter.
I had spoken to Graham James on the phone and he told me that Gordon Hay had had a second-winter Iceland Gull at Spynes Mere (EDIT: apparently an advanced first-winter). Neil Randon also texted me saying it was still present pretty recently so I dashed over there quickly, picking it out easily enough. Light was fading and I had been about an hour (which is the longest my dad wanted to wait) so made tracks. A good day of local birding.

second-winter Iceland Gull (EDIT: apparently an advanced 1w)