Saturday, 17 March 2012

Patch white winger!

Iceland Gull - more here
I am damn glad I stuck around on the patch today, as I nearly didn't in the rain. There are no hides in which to shelter at Canons and the rain can really put you off after a while. I would have probably headed off late morning were it not that Ian Magness and I had arranged to meet a guy from the Downlands Project regarding scrub clearance. This meant that I was hovering around the south east side of Banstead Woods for a while in the afternoon. As I started to meander back, I decided to have a quick scan over the valley. Earlier, good numbers of Herring Gulls were moving south but I was busy with the meeting so couldn't really check them out. It was now mid afternoon and there was only a small trickle of gulls moving along the valley. None had passed for a few minutes and I was preparing my stuff to move off when a flock of about ten gulls presented themselves. Quick check, OH MY GOD THERE'S A WHITE-WINGER!!!!!!!! Fortunately, I've been using a new lens for the last few days and I've been making a habit of having the camera more ready than usual so it wasn't long before I was snapping away. Through the viewfinder my initial suspicions were strengthened and I became certain it was an Iceland Gull after switching to scope and looking at the pics. I couldn't believe what had just happened. I'd been considering doing some gull stake outs at this spot and thought maybe after seeing thousands of Herring Gulls I might see something different but  no, the first time I actually purposefully stop and grill the passing gulls with camera ready for any length of time I get a ruddy Iceland Gull ten minutes and fifty Herrings later!!!! Classic instance of being in the right place at the right time and shows how important luck is in birding.

This follows on from a highly frustrating white-winged gull that flew over the same place last year but the sighting was brief and I couldn't get my camera out in time, so it's amazing to get this on my patch list.