A diary of my birding activity covering highlights and photos from my birding adventures. Mainly Norfolk (UK), occasionally beyond. I might mention the odd thing that isn't avian, but for moth and other insect news check out my mothing diary.

Thursday, 4 February 2016

Breckland Gulling

Driving into the Brecks on Saturday morning I made a spur-of-the-moment decision to stop by at a well-known top-secret site for Goshawks.  After a while a juvenile Goshawk appeared low over the field just in front of us, dropping to the ground momentarily before steaming off again.  A bit later I picked up a bird displaying much further away, which may have been the same bird. No sign of any Woodlark here today but a Bullfinch was nice.  Also in the Brecks was this Red Kite:

Red Kite, Cockley Cley, 30th January

A regular site for a finch and bunting near the Arms seemed to be quiet at first but further down the road I discovered a small flock including several Bramblings and at least a couple of Lesser Redpolls.

 Bramblings, The Arms, 30th January

Lesser Redpolls, The Arms, 30th January

I've been keen to spend some time looking at gulls with someone who knows what they're looking at - and Pete Wilson kindly agreed to spend the afternoon gulling with me in Brecks.  At the first site we saw 7 Red Deer as we arrived. 

 Red Deer, Tuddenham, 30th January

Turning to the gull flock Pete locked straight on to a Caspian Gull, a really interesting bird to study.  Also 2 adult Yellow-legged Gulls here and an equally interesting Herring Gull x Lesser Black-backed Gull hybrid.

Caspian Gull, Tuddenham, 30th January

My first attempt to photograph the Caspian Gull failed as I moved the scope as I placed the camera on it, but when I brought the resulting image up on my laptop the next day I was surprised to see a first-winter Mediterranean Gull slap bang in the middle of it!  Had completely missed that.

Mediterranean Gull, Tuddenham, 30th January

We tried some more pig fields the best of which held a few more birds of interest.  Pete picked out a couple of big first-winter Herring Gulls belonging to the race argentatus, a taxon I've only ever been confident to identify in adult plumage.  He also picked up on a Caspian Gull x Herring Gull hybrid, a bird I would certainly have overlooked.  Too far for photos unfortunately but really interesting to study.

The gull roost at Lackford was great.  I was impressed how Pete called out so many Yellow-legged Gulls on his first scan and I eventually got to see most of them.  In the light I found picking out the adults difficult but the first-winters were the ones I was keenest to get to grips with.  We had a detailed look at one of these which was really helpful, though I'm still a long way off mastering them!  Pete logged 10 Yellow-legged Gulls in total, I think I saw around 8 of those.  A first-winter Caspian Gull was great to watch - quite a distinctive individual in some ways.   Another argentatus, this time probably a 3rd winter, was good to see but it was getting pretty dark before arguably the best bird turned up - the Iceland Gull (looking like an adult, but probably 4th winter as likely a returning bird that was 3rd winter last year).  Also at least 3 Goldeneye on the lake.

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