Thursday, December 01, 2005

196 - Laughing Gull

Well, I finally caught up with this bird that's been eluding me for the last few weeks. Fifth time lucky! I didn't need to be in work until 10:00am this morning and with me working on Saturday, it seemed like the only chance I'd get to go for it. I arrived at the harbour in Porthcawl at 7:30am. It was just beginning to get light but it was bloody freezing in the wind. A scan across to Sandy Bay revealed a large flock of gulls at the tide's edge. As I began to walk along the sea wall, Turnstones appeared from every direction as they fed on the fishermen's scraps along the wall and pavement. I've never been so close to them. They're actually a lot smaller than I'd realised. Anyway, on to the gulls for a scan. Most were Black-headed gulls with a solitary Great Black-backed Gull. One of the smaller gulls looked dark and was alone. The light was difficult but I decided to pay this one some more atention. Viewing from the wall down on to the beach I was optimistic that I was on the bird, but it flew off before I could get near enough to confirm it for sure. With time wearing on, and frostbite setting in I decided to deploy plan B. Bread! Thinking of Dan's text, I'd brought half a loaf with me just in case. I walked over to the harbour where some gulls seemed to be active. As I threw some pieces of bread in to the water, I began to attract a few more birds, and sure enough the bird I was after appeared within a minute. Blimey, it stood out a mile! Extremely dark wings. Black primaries and secondaries, brown coverts and a dusky grey mantle. A black or very dark terminal band on the tail really stood out too. Black bill and legs completed the picture. It was a little smaller than I'd expected. Perhaps the same size or slightly bigger than a Black-headed Gull. I placed some bread on the sea wall and managed some nice close views of it fluttering down to feed, though it failed to land all the time I was there. Never mind, the second lifer in a week. Number 196 for the year, Laughing Gull. A very confiding Rock Pipit completed the morning. I thought at first it was a littoralis type, but I think this was the light playing tricks on me. Anyway, its gamy leg revealed why it kept close.


Tim Hall said...

Well done! Will you reach 210?

Tim (231)

Wayne said...

In theory I should now get 213. Of the birds on my expected list I've seen 2 so far, Purple Sandpiper and Crossbill. I have however, seen 5 that weren't on my list Long-tailed Duck, Snow Bunting, Lapland Bunting, Upland Sandpiper and Laughing Gull. Shame that Pale-bellied Brent Goose isn't tickable. Got Dark-bellied already.

It is however, December now and the opportunities for getting out are limited. A trip to Slimbridge will probably take me over 200, and then I'll need to get down to the coast and get a diver or two and a Jack Snipe. I got Black-throated Diver on the same day as I had the Marsh Sandpiper in Devon.

The tits will probably be more difficult, and I'll need to travel for Smew and Marsh Harrier. Maybe a trip to Chew and Shapwick Heath in the same day will do that for me.

I'm optimistic about Black Redstart too. I should get chance to get to Cardiff or the Ogmore area again.