Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Embarrassing Grebe..

On Saturday gone I was down Teesside again and my first port of call was Seaton Common where on arrival Dave Foster had found a 2nd winter Caspian Gull on view, I studied the bird for a while before it took flight and was lost amongst the gulls. Sadly I didn’t see another during the morning Gulling session. I decided that I would have a dodge along to Hartlepool Headland and try for the Glaucous Gull; it had now been located at the Fish Quay at the Headland. It took a while but eventually I saw the bird and then a few other times, however all sightings were brief as it disappeared out of view as the Fish Quay is inaccessible for the general public. It was a good day and an enjoyable couple of hours.

Today I went back down to Teesside with the hope of seeing the Slavonian Grebe; very embarrassingly this was a county tick for me. Having never found my own or twitched one in Durham before, this bird showed well and what a nice bird to have as my first. Whilst at the Headland the other highlights included Purple Sandpipers and at least 2 Mediterranean Gulls. One of the birds with nearly its full summer hood as the pictures below will show. Sadly no sign of the Glaucous Gull today but it didn’t appear that much action was going on at the Fish Quay today so it was probably either out at sea with the trawlers or sitting on a rooftop in Hartlepool somewhere. 

 (Rock Pipit -  © Andrew Kinghorn)

 (Red-throated Diver - © Andrew Kinghorn)

(Slavonian Grebe - © Andrew Kinghorn)

Also the two different Headland Mediterranean Gulls:

 (Mediterranean Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)
Note that on this bird its retaining quite a lot of its summer plumage.

(Mediterranean Gull -© Andrew Kinghorn)
This is clearly a different bird, the hood is not as obvious as in the bird above and P9 & P10 appear to have thin black fringes to the inner webs.

I decided to have some lunch and then head on down to Seaton Common for some afternoon Gulling, after 2 packets of crisps and some chocolate (healthy living) I made my way to Seaton Common. I scanned the gulls with by bins from the car but no sign of anything jumping out at me, I decided that I was just wanting to stay in the warmth of the car so manned up and got out, set up my scope, and started scanning. After a few minutes I turned to the two guys to me left and said "I think I've got a Casp", waited a while and got a better view; it was a Caspian Gull. Sitting down it was still a fairy distinctive bird:
  • Nice white head with small beady eye and a mask around the eye.
  • The shawl like markings were present on the hindneck.
  • The bird overall looked like a miniature Great black-backed Gull, which I believe look similar.
  • The bird looked long in the body with long primaries and a fairly deep chest, this was easily discerned even thought the bird was at first sitting down in the grass. 
  • The tertials were solidly brown with fairly broad white fringes.
  • Long parallel sides bill was obvious even at range.
  • The upper scapulars and mantle is grey with dark markings throughout, making the bird look quite smart and fairly handsome.
 (Caspian Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

(Caspian Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

(Caspian Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

Sadly the gull got lost amongst the flock after about 10 minutes and another 30 minutes or so gulling produced nothing much out of the ordinary, I therefore took and long and fruitless walk from North Gare to Seaton Carew and back looking for Snow Bunting but yet again didn't see any. When I got back to the car a Short-eared Owl had just come out of roost and was hunting the common allowing for some fantastic views and got this poor video:

(Short-eared Owl - © Andrew Kinghorn)

Until next time, Foghorn out!

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