North Wales Discovery Day (cont’d)

A Great Selection of Birds

Guiding in North Wales (12th Jan) with Alan Davies was a blast.  Great to visit some favourite old haunts, especially in the fun company of Mark, Steve, Ian, Tony and Dave (see here). The Hawfinch and Lady Amherst’s Pheasant were long gone from Halkyn Churchyard, but the usual suspects showed well.  It’s a stretch of coastline that can get you 100 birds in a day all through the year.  We were only interrupted by that effort by our Kumlien’s type Gull.  Headline birds included 3 diver species, 3 auks (including Black Guillemots), Chough, Peregrine, Slavonian Grebe, Dippers, various Sea Duck, Iceland Gull and of course that high Arctic Gull species that looked scary.

Oh Yeah, and Alan really goes in for luxury guiding ; ) – just check out our mini-bus at the bottom!

2nd winter Iceland Gull (above 2 pics) on the same storm beach as the Kumlien’s type.

2nd winter Kumlien’s or Iceland Gull, yes it really is a different bird from the one in the photos above.  Of course field experience nearly always trumps a single photo.  See the dark tips to the primaries on the far wing.

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Mediterranean (2-3) and Black-headed Gulls showing off at Beddmanarch car park. Both species coming to bread here.

Pale-bellied Brent Geese. Beddmanarch, Anglesey, 12th Jan 2012. These are part of the same population I’m very familiar with from Northern Ireland.  The High Arctic ones which sometimes contain Grey-bellied Brent.  The legendary Ken Croft had been reading the rings from the flock and we did indeed see at least 3 ringed birds.  Here’s the current stats with grateful thanks to Marc Hughes:

“Hi Martin,
Thought you might be interested in the Pale bellied Brents that are ringed at Beddmanarch Bay, a few of which we saw last week.
These are the rings read by Ken Croft before Christmas –
Right=Red K, L= Blue L ringed 05.08.07 on Axel Heiburg Island, N Canada.  It’s a returning bird resighted in Iceland, Foryd Bay and Beddmanarch
Right=Red K, L= Blue I ringed 05.08.07 as above
Right=Yell I, L=Yell T ringed at Wexford Slobs 13.02.08 resighted in Iceland, Dublin and N Ireland.
Right=White C, L=White 2 ringed in Dundrum Ireland 09.01.08 resighted in Iceland, Strangford Lough-N Ireland and new in from there to Holyhead.
Right=Red J, L=Blue C ringed 05.08.07 Axel Heiburg Island only resighted Strangford Lough and Beddmanarch
Right=White D, L=White P ringed 09.01.06 at Strangford, N Ireland resighted Iceland, and interestingly from Isle of Lewis April 2010.

Fascinating stuff!

Luxury Birding. The minibus we ordered wasn’t available so we got an upgrade for the ‘Magnificent 7’. Photo thanks to Angelsey legend: Ken Croft. There was a v. nice Black-throated Diver feeding in Holyhead harbour (in the background).

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About Martin Garner

I am a Free Spirit
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5 Responses to North Wales Discovery Day (cont’d)

  1. Martin Garner says:

    I agree (see Pim Wolf’s comment on photo) there is a possibility the bird above is not a Glaucous. Julian Hough has also already emailed to raise the same questions. The bird was a long way off and looked pretty beefy for sure so the first shout for Glaucous wasn’t contested. It suddenly took off and headed straight toward us. I made the classic school boy error . First time out with new camera and I was very excited to test in out on close fly by…hence nice photos and poorly observed by me- and now somewhat uncertain I.D.- sorry!

  2. birdingfaroes says:

    Yes, looks like one of those dark 2. winter Iceland Gulls that have been so common during this invasion – almost 50% of the birds have been 2. winter so far, but the number of first winters have increased during this week on the Faroes.

    Many of the 2. winters are rather heavy, but headshap and bill gives this one away as an Iceland Gull.

  3. Marc Hughes says:

    I have been feeling uneasy about this bird Martin. I think we fell into the trap of ‘there was a Glaucous in that spot yesterday’ syndrome. I was uneasy as it flew past (and embarrasingly stayed quiet), and am even more uneasy after looking at your pictures – it certainly doesn’t look like a Glaucous Gull. To be fair to you, you watched it through the lens of a camera the whole time! Although they look the same, it surely has to be a different bird though doesn’t it? We watched it fly way to the south and picked up the other almost immediately way to the north.
    Lots of learning here I think, not just about white-winged gull i.d., but about making decisions on what you see and not what it ought to be!

  4. Martin Garner says:

    err hmmm- Glaucous labeling changed to 2nd winter Iceland Gull

  5. Pim Wolf says:

    There is a rule for this kind of thing; if you do not make mistakes, you have not been trying hard enough.
    Next one to consider, is it possible that the two Iceland Gulls are in fact one bird? I think that the difference in eye-colour could well be caused by the stronger light in the first two photographs and I think that the pattern on the “wrist”is very similar.

    cheers, pim

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