Posts Tagged ‘Glaucous Gull’

A Red breasted Goose had turned up in Norfolk with a large quantity of Pink footed Geese in December. It didn’t stay long in Norfolk and was relocated in North Lancashire in the Cockerham area. Myself and Steve B decided to have a go at seeing it and left Rochdale at 7am on a cool morning. We called at Fishmoor Reservoir, Blackburn to try to catch up with a couple of white winged gulls that had been seen there recently, but as it was still fairly dark we headed up to the Cockerham area. Lots of geese flying around was a truly great spectacle as the sun began rise, we checked a few of the large flocks out but could not see anything except Pink footed Geese. We headed down into the Thurham area and found a flock of around 300 Whooper Swans with 4 Bewick Swans also seen. A field also contained about 6 dodgy looking Canada Geese, after watching them we realised that they were not moving, then a man appeared and picked them up, they were decoys! A message said, “Red breasted Goose just flown over Sand Villa near Cockerham”. Off we went to try to connect, but on arrival, true to form, the bird had flown out onto the salt marsh! Now for some real birding as we spent a couple of hours sifting through the main flocks and finding: – 11 White fronted Geese (Russian) 2 Bean Geese (Tundra & Taiga) Barnacle Goose, lots of Curlew, 2 Buzzards. Great fun watching the geese push each other around whilst most of them just wanted to feed. We met up with Sarfraz & Paul, fellow Rossendale birders, who both needed Bean Goose. They managed to be put onto the Bean Geese by Rob Creek (GM Birder) well done Rob.

Up to 50 birders were scattered around the area waiting for the Red breasted Goose to reappear, so we decided to have a look at the Lane Ends, Fluke Hall, Eagland Hill & Bradshaw feeding areas. We soon found lots of Tree Sparrows, Lapwing, Curlew and Redshank. As we arrived at the eastern end of Eagland Hill we located a flock of Chaffinch and a few Yellowhammers, Corn Bunting and then Steve B said, “There is a Great Grey Shrike in that bush” and sure enough, there was! Grab the cameras and take some pictures, some other birders arrived and also saw the shrike. Well done to Steve for finding the bird, we picked up Red legged Partridge as we headed back towards Cockerham. We gave the flocks another good grilling, then at 3pm we decided to leave the area and return to Fishmoor Reservoir to try for the gulls once more. As we were reaching Fishmoor the Red breasted Goose reappeared at the same place we had been watching at around 4pm, isn’t that typical.

At Fishmoor it was very cold but about 6 hardy souls were busy looking through the big flocks of gulls as we arrived, one said, “The Kumliens gull has just taken off” and we just could not get on it as it headed for the Walker Steel roof and out of sight. After about 10 minutes, I began to watch a gull bathing in a peculiar fashion and it had no black on its wings, it was an adult Iceland Gull, I suddenly had lots of people asking for directions and wanting to use my scope. I have not seen many adult Iceland Gulls before and really enjoyed watching it. Another 5 minutes went by and I saw a large white bird land on the reservoir and again began to wash in a peculiar fashion, dipping its head in the water and rolling its wings in the water as if to dive, like a Guillemot does when it dives(hope that helps) It was a juvenile Glaucous Gull. Again I had found a good bird and gave directions to people who wanted to see it, fame at last! Steve B was by now frozen and really wanted to go home so that he could go out and drink some freezing cold lager. I bade farewell to the hardy souls at Fishmoor, who said that I must return soon! Got home by 6-15pm after a really enjoyable days birding in Lancashire.

Dave O.


We thought we would have a change and have a trip on a Saturday with myself, Bob K & Steve K for company, with Steve K driving. We quickly worked out a trip into Yorkshire with a  couple of new sites on the agenda. We met at a time that had allowed more sleep and we set off into a dense fog patch from Rochdale to Brighouse, it cleared as we arrived at Fairburn Ings near Castleford to reveal a nice winters morning. After a visit to the far end of the reserve and watching up to 40 Red Legged Partridge feeding in a field. A pair of  Pintail  were also seen. We were told that the male & female Smew were in the Village Bay area by one of the locals. These beautiful ducks were soon seen on the water and after a couple of minutes took flight towards the visitor centre, a Kingfisher was seen by Steve K. As we headed towards York around the Bramham area A64/A1 a single Red Kite was seen (thanks for the tip Mark K) Our first visit to Rufforth Airport to watch the many different types of small & large gulls that are usually drawn to the area by the local tip was quite a successful one. It’s not an easy place to find but the large flocks of gulls that gather in the area help you get there. Around 5/6 birders were already on station and as we set up an Iceland Gull was soon found as we searched the bathing gulls. The microlight aircraft, that were landing and taking off, kept flushing the gulls, but it meant birds from the various flocks came towards the area we were watching and an adult Glaucous Gull was then found by one of us, what an excellent bird! Both these white winged birds were well watched and really enjoyed in the hour or so we were there, nice place to visit. We now had a bit of a dilemma, there had been 2 Great Grey Shrikes reported in the south part of Yorkshire the day before, but as yet not reported today. So, we headed off back into Lancashire to find the single Waxwing at Orrell Water Park. As we reached the area we saw cameras pointed skywards and quickly the Waxwing was seen and photographed. It was a little unusual seeing a single bird after the large flocks of recent years. A look around the water park for a Mandarin & a Water Rail were unsuccessful, but the star bird showed really well eating apples on a bird feeder in someones front garden. Another visit along Rindle Road, Astley Moss did not reveal the hoped for Yellowhammer, but a Sparrowhawk and lots of Reed Bunting were seen. Good trip out.

Dave O.IMG_8464

Just myself and Chris B for a trip to the east coast with me driving. We met in Newhey at 6am and arrived at Flamborough at 8am with the roads nice and quiet. The weather was dull at first and becoming sunny around midday. There had been some good birds during the week with easterly winds and good sea watching. It had all changed on Sunday as after an hour, apart from lots of Gannets, a solitary Arctic Skua was our seawatching total! News of a Wryneck and a Barred Warbler in Thornwick Bay (near the lighthouse) had us looking for them. The Wryneck showed really well after a while and the Barred Warbler remained hidden. Lots of more common species where around which made the birding much more pleasant, after the springtime double dip of the Crag Martin (think that really hurt me). A trip to Old Fall Flash to see a Little Stint was next, along with a close encounter with 2 Roe Deer, who just ran through a hedge at the side of me! Two Greenshank also on the flash and lots of bathing large gulls. Time to leave the area and have a look out for other raptors in Wykeham Forest just west of Scarborough. Perfect conditions for raptors, but, in the hour Hobby, Sparrowhawk and a single Buzzard was all we saw! News of a White fronted Goose at Fairburn Ings (even though a bit dodgy) was our next stop and and after a good search around only a very large flock of Greylag Geese was apparent and no White front. We lastly visited a reserve that I have only been to once in the last 20 years, Swillington Ings. It used to be known as St Aidans Flood/Flash and was a dissused open cast mining area you could always guarantee things like Iceland & Glaucous Gulls and lots of Smew. The area has really changed and is ready to be taken over by the RSPB. There are lots of footpaths around the large area with lots of people using them and with lots of effort will be transformed into a great nature reserve in time. We called in here as there was a Black Tern in the area, the only hide was visited, access along Fleet Lane. We went into the hide and 3 of the local Swillington Ings members were present, they made us feel very welcome and even gave, yes gave us each a copy of their yearly report! A Spotted Redshank was seen and the lads told us how to find the Black Tern at the other end of the reserve, we had a good laugh with them and as time was against us we went along Astley Lane to where the very large “Drag Crane” is. This will be the RSPB visitor center area as it has a large carpark. The Black Tern was found after 10 minutes of searching and was really enjoyed after missing out on a couple of birds during the day. We reached home by around 6-15pm and both enjoyed our trip seeing 4 new year birds each.

Dave O.

Our almost annual trip to Moore local nature reserve in Warrington was well attended this year, apart from one of the lads choosing down rather than feathers! We met at 6am in Rochdale and with myself at the wheel arrived at Moore around 7am. It was cold but we had the reserve almost to ourselves. After we had all spread out and began to search for the sometimes hard to find Lesser Spotted Woodpecker a Greater Spotted Woodpecker & Green Woodpecker were soon heard. Then the much quieter and more rapid drumming of our target species was heard. The bird was only about 15 yards away and happily fed amongst the mossy/lichen covered branch of an old tree before landing 30 yards away and beginning to drum, great views! Its a smashing reserve for various species and worth a visit if you are ever in the area. A few more birders were arriving by now and we told them what we had seen. As the tide was around 11am at Liverpool we decided to visit Richmond Bank to search for the various type`s of gulls that are usually present. The tip area were the gulls visit closes around midday so the earlier the better we all thought. So by 8-45am we met another 6 “gullers” and began our search through the many birds present. Conditions for viewing were excellent and within 5 minutes of arrival a juvenile/first winter Iceland Gull was found. It remained in view for our 2 hour stay! Then a  Herring Gull that looked like a Yellow Legged Gull was seen, until a really well marked Yellow Legged Gull gave itself up, what a nice example. Next up an adult type Caspian Gull was seen. Long “spindly” legs, slim parallel bill. black beady eye on a tapering head shape were some of the noted identification features. Round about this time Steve B (who has a small attention span with gulls & wildfowl) just happened to point out to us all a Glaucous Gull flying down the river, well done Steve! By this time the River Mersey was beginning to push the birds off their roost areas and as we all watched the tidal “bore” the sound was quite spectacular, most of our team have never seen or heard this before. We believe it was to do with it being a 9.9 metre tide? An Iceland Gull was seen flying up & down the river as the river area was completely covered by now. We called in at an area along the East Lancashire Road (A580) to see if we could see any Yellowhammers and managed to find one. We managed to get home around 1pm and all had enjoyed the half day trip, all seeing around 7 new species for the year.

Dave O.

2013 has really been an exceptional year for great birds so why should December be any different. So when, “an unusual guillemot” was seen in Portland Harbour on Boxing Day, it seemed like another rarity was on the cards. The bird was quickly identified as an Brunnich’s Guillemot, but as we all know, they usually just die overnight or are found floating on the tide line. We were told that this bird was feeding happily and even looked in good health and must have been blown into Portland Harbour by all the recent gales. So, apart from feeling a bit rough after the excesses of Christmas a trip down south was planned for Saturday. Myself, Bob K and Steve K met in Milnrow and we picked up Phil R in Leigh at 4am. Steve K was driving and after passing through a bit of bad weather made our way via the M6 onto the M5 leaving at Taunton then onto the A roads. The news was that the bird was still present, so a very happy car load of birders arrived at Portland at 9am. The bird was showing to the 400+ birders that were well spread out along the quayside and followed the pattern of:- on the surface for 3 seconds, dive and surface nearly 50 meters away. What amazing lungs for such a seabird! We watched the bird for around 2 hours, at times quite close in and really enjoyed its antics as it was nearly, “rowed over” by a bunch of oarsmen, twice! Alongside a pair of Razorbills the structural differences could be seen, with a shorter thicker bill and a white line on its upper mandible. Lots of other good seabirds were also present with Black Throated and Great Northern Divers, Black and Common Guillemots, Black and Red Necked Grebes, 28 Mediterranean Gulls. A rather large cloud made us run to the car and make plans to see a Glossy Ibis near Radipole Lake, Weymouth. Upon arrival the bird was feeding on a playing field that had been flooded by the recent gales. We also met Nibber a friend from our Scilly Island’s days, good to see you pal! Next stop was West Bexington were a second winter Glaucous Gull was seen (a little distantly) on the beach, luckily disturbed by dog walkers and identified in flight. Time was pressing on and as we all basked in the warm feeling that is a “lifer” and having seen such a lot of nice birds in one day we headed for home. We called at a couple of services on the way back, as the traffic was not too bad really. Special mention to Steve K for driving there and back in a really chilled manner, don’t think me or Bob could have contained ourselves as well. Reaching Rochdale by around 7pm. Great memorable trip with a “lifer” for each of us.
Dave O.

No leaves yet on the trees, time to try for the difficult to see Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Having only ever seen about 7 or 8 of these birds it has always been a bit of a challenge to see them at all. We knew of the birds at Moore N.R. near Warrington, but after several misses in past years, we decided to give them a proper go and have an earlyish start. Just myself and Steve K. for the trip and we departed Rochdale at 7am, with Steve driving, reaching Moore by 7:45am. It was frosty in the early part but nice in the morning sunlight. As we arrived we asked a birder if the Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers had been seen and he said,”Not yet”. With me being a little suspicious of seeing the birds at all and Steve K. saying, “We will see one within half an hour of leaving the car”. Guess what? We left the car park area and we saw 3 birders looking in the tops of the trees about 150 yards away, what were they looking at, surely not the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker? As we got there,we heard its characteristic drumming. Then sat out and showing itself to the world was a male Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, what an absolute stunning bird, my first for a long time. Steve you got it bang on. We enjoyed 10 minutes with the bird and had another look a bit later on in the sunshine. Lots of Blackbirds and small birds were creating a lot of noise in an ivy clad tree, there must have been a Tawny Owl hidden away in there somewhere but we did not see it, just a Redpoll! A short drive away was our next port of call, Richmond Bank near Fiddler’s Ferry Power Station between Warrington and Widnes, just over the river from Moore in fact. The sun was now shining which could make the viewing a bit more difficult but a lot more pleasant! We got in position and “teamed up” with another 3 fellow “gullers” and set about trying to find any “white wingers” in amongst the many thousands of birds present. Birds were flying in most of the time from the tip in Warrington adjacent to the River Mersey to bathe and rest up. After about 30 minutes an Iceland Gull was found and we were told to look for the bird near to a blue barrel, after much confusion we realized that there were more than one blue barrel! We all managed to see the bird after much laughter. Another Iceland Gull was found and then a huge Glaucous Gull was picked out dwarfing all the other birds present. This object in the background, to define the birds position, was a grey tin and not the now famous blue barrel’s. We also saw our first butterfly of the year, a Small Tortoiseshell. We met Paul from In Focus and had a good chat about his recent exploits. He said he hadn’t been twitching this year but went up for the Harlequin Duck in North Scotland! Another strange bird was a albinistic Black Headed Gull with a black mark through its eye? It was dinnertime when we left and we headed for Pennington Flash, Leigh to twitch a Willow Tit, we saw three of them. The water levels were to high for the hoped for Green Sandpiper. So, we headed for home. We reached Rochdale by 3pm and had really enjoyed the day. We must make it an annual event?

Dave O.

Happy new year to all you readers.

A delayed start to the new year – I couldn’t motivate myself to get out yesterday because of the heavy rain. Still a day later the weather is dry, but bitterly cold.

Castleshawe Res, Delph – On the upper res a Great Northern Diver starts my year of on a good foot – actually I stayed in the car and ticked-it off. Set off to Leighton Moss, but later I changed my mind after hearing that the motorway is shut near Kendal – bugger. I decide to go do the Southport area.

Martin Mere WWT – 1st day open, and it’s packed with people. I managed a couple of Marsh Harriers, and a record count of European White Fronted Goose 56, and a few Barnacles mixed with the farsends of Pink Footed Geese. Odd watching a Lesser Black Backed Gull trying to drown a Female Mandarin. It wouldn’t allow the duck to get a breath with dive bombing it. The gull got bored after a few minutes and drifted off.

Southport  – A Glaucous Gull has been showing well for a few days now. As I haven’t seen one for about 15 years, I had to try for it. So I get to the carpark and chat with the other listers. I just had to wait and it will come. It did after 10 minutes. We walked to within 50 ft of the bird. What a huge gull. Somebody quips that where it comes from it doesn’t meet humans, so allowing us close views. Close by a flock of 120 Twite ( a bird I didn’t get last year). A Peregrine bombed into a flock of knot.

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A freezing cold wind. But I managed a couple of good birds – 55 in total.