Monday, 3 March 2014

Larus Smithsonianus

I'd been thinking about "having a go" for the AMERICAN HERRING GULL for a while. The fact that I had a three day window off work fuelled things even more.

I must confess that Gulls are not my favourite family and I have my own thoughts on the Herring Gull complex BUT if the BOU say it's a species that's good enough for me!

My trip started on Saturday morning. Louise and my Mother had a serious shopping session planned. I did the honourable thing and suggested they'd enjoy it more without me tagging along...they agreed!

I hoped to make it to Campeltown mid-afternoon so I'd have a chance to connect before dark. A long shot I know but I like to live dangerously! I did OK for time but the weather let me down, badly. Leaden skies and heavy driving rain. Needless to say, I didn't connect.

I'd taken the lad with me so I gave him a good stretch then it was time to eat. I turned up a side street and there was Rab's Chippy! I didn't see C. NESBITT.

Next to the COOP for a few supplies. A few hours listening to the Footy then a quiet lay-by and down for the night.

The phone alarm woke me at six. Slept remarkably's been a few years since I slept in the car. pretty sure it was Oct 05 in Penzance before a week on Scilly.

I got down to the harbour around 6.20. Not a soul in sight. Plenty of Gulls in the harbour in the half-light. I started scanning. Around 6.40 I noticed a group of birders emerging from a car on the far side of the harbour. Reinforcements!

I walked round to join them. Still no sign...

Still no joy by 8am so a few of us decided to try the floods just north of town were it had been seen yesterday. Unfortunately, when we reached the floods there were very few gulls in sight. There were however some significant flocks of White-fronted Geese. I joined a birder from Cumbria called Geoff and we did a circuit which included passing the airport. No luck. Cracking Song Thrush in song though...

We returned to the floods and joined a small group. A few phone numbers were exchanged (always a good idea) and some of the chaps returned to the harbour. It was now around 8.45. The were now hundreds of Gulls on the flood, most of them immatures! Quite a daunting sight to be honest. A few possibles were grilled but nothing definite.

I reckon there were only around 15 of us looking for the bird and at this point my hopes were starting to fade a tad.

Then a phone rang. An excited conversation that could mean only one thing...someone had found was in the Harbour!!!

Drove with purpose back to harbour. Approached the group of birders scoping across the harbour in a reasonably calm way. A quick look through a 'scope. BINGO!

It's out there somewhere?

I found the lad who'd spotted it flying in and thanked him...most sincerely!

I decided to hang around a while. Partly to enjoy the moment and partly to rest up before the long journey (420 miles) home. I also hoped I might get some flight views.  Obviously I had no idea in which direction it would fly. Fortunately, it came my way...

Looks promising
Here it comes...


It's here...

Back View...

Round the harbour again...

Over my head to finish...

So, that's it.

I still get a buzz from making these trips when I can. You can't win 'em all...but you can try!

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