Sunday 17 February 2019

Update from Shawell

It's been interesting so far at Shawell this winter - good numbers of gulls and surprisingly good numbers of birders. As most of you know, I have been studying the gulls at the site for many years, but this is the first time for quite a while that new birders have been attracted to the site. Mostly year listers, but hopefully a few will develop an interest in gulls.

Before I mention the gulls, I need to say that if you do visit the site please view the flooded sandpit from the public footpath and park sensibly - there is only very limited parking.

Of course the attraction for most is the 'white-wingers'. Iceland Gulls unlike last year have been in fairly short supply with just two seen, however, eight mighty Glaucs have graced the sandpit so far this winter.

The spectacle of thousands of gulls taking to the air when a falcon or buzzard comes into range is quite spectacular. At times there can be up to 20,000 gulls on site. One thing that escapes the attention of most of the visiting birders is the colour-rings fitted to many of the gulls. Try having a closer look at their legs 😉

 During winter Lesser Black-backed Gulls give way to Herring Gulls as many migrate south, but yesterday there was a sign that the Lesser Black-backed Gulls are on the way back. I read the colour-ring on one Lesser Black-backed Gull that has passed through the site every year since 2013 - 1D9B was ringed in Cambridgeshire originally.

Below are the two 'white-wingers' I saw yesterday:

Juvenile Glaucous Gull (first seen on January 14th)

Juvenile Glaucous Gull (same as the one above, first seen on January 14th)

Adult Iceland Gull

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