My drive to work takes me along some nice scenic Northumberland coastal spots. In particular I enjoy the short stretch between Warkworth and Amble where the road accompanies the River Coquet on its final leg to the sea. There are always birds to see, even from the moving car, a heron on the weir, or an egret fishing in the shallows maybe. Sometimes a few Black tailed Godwits are feeding right beside the road making an id possible from almost periphery views.
On Tuesday it was such a loose drive-by scan that made me notice quite a good gathering of Great black backed Gulls on the increasingly exposed sand bar as the tide receded. I wondered if I had time to pull in to the car park for a quick look? Now this is a very short bit of road for thinking so I was almost on top of the junction when I swung into the car park almost without braking.
Right, I have 10 mins to check the flock, so scope out, a 50mtr brisk walk to the watersports centre to view the estuary and start at the far left. GBB after GBB all nice and contrasty in the morning light, then after about 50 or so, bingo, a bright white apparition looms into view, floating down the old water channel at the back, a huge 3rd winter Glaucous Gull. It, has a long thick bill and a big head so is probably a male, and it slowly drifted onto the sand bar where it sat idly gazing around, having a drink and a bit of a preen. I watched it for a few minutes then continued my once only scan to the right just in case.
Nothing new jumped out so, after one more look at the Glauc, I packed up and left for work, smug in the knowledge that my intuition had been correct. With all the new Great black backs I would have been disappointed if there hadn't been a Glauc in there!
I had a more typical juv Glaucous Gull here just before New Year, but this almost white bird was very different. These days it is very uncommon to see anything other than juv Glaucous on our coast and I cant remember the last adult I've seen here? Anyway, it is always pleasing to get a prile of white wingers before the end of January ( Med Gull, Iceland and Glaucous) . Lets hope one of the rarer ones might follow before spring...
[Note - I thought this bird was a 2nd winter but some hunting on the Internet shows that its pale iris makes it a 3rd winter.]