The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Tuesday, 4 March 2014

Who Wants to be a Kumlien-airre

Oh dear, I've just realised how awful that title is.  I can only apologise.

I've rather lost track of the events of the last five days, suffice to say, they were really enjoyable.

One 1st-winter Iceland Gull has made itself a fixture of Chesil Cove, with a second briefly joining it on the 2nd March.

In fact I've spent quite a bit of time seawatching at that site, with little reward in terms of passage. Just a bit of obvious small Gull movement, including a number of Black-headed Gull flocks circling into the sky to take a short-cut across Portland Harbour.   Also the odd Common Scoter and Diver.

It's great to see the community getting together to clean up the legacy of the storms.

A few visits to Ferrybridge have yielded great action from the now smart-looking Mediterranean Gull.

On the 1st, I met up with an enthusiastic young naturalist called Megan who is currently doing a community engagement and wildlife course with the Dorset Wildlife Trust. See her excellent blog here  She is eager to learn as much as possible about the wildlife of Portland, and I was delighted to be able to show her the local Barn Owl pair that evening.  They put on an excellent show for us, as they called to each other, and prospected nest sites.


On what was a beautifully still day, I took the opportunity to go on one of my long rambles, first round Barelycrates/Reap/Suckthumb, then to Chesil Cove and back.  I can really sense that a summer migrant is just round the corner, though not today sadly!

I again bumped into a/the Firecrest at Suckthumb Quarry, but there was little else of note around.

As soon as I set up at Chesil, an Iceland Gull honed into view.  I saw nothing particularly unusual about it, till it was almost out of view as it carried on south towards the Bill.  Was that darker primaries I saw?  I wasn't sure. 

Almost immediately afterwards, the now regular (and perfectly regular) Iceland Gull appeared, showing on and off for the rest of the morning.  But, is this the same as the bird above?  I don't think so.

Sea passage consisted of a Manx Shearwater, a Red-throated Diver, and three Common Scoter.  Only a tiny improvement on recent sessions!

My first butterfly of the year, a Small Tortoiseshell, was seen.

As I walked back along the West Weares, I made a point of checking the seas, just in case.  This paid off, as a very quick scan of the water south of Blacknor Point produced an Iceland Gull-type.  I took out my scope once again and had a quick look, not expecting much.  Initially, it appeared pretty normal, but then it turned round, revealing it's primary projection, clearly with dark-tips.  It was unfortunately always distant.

But, with the support of Martin, I was delighted to call it a 2nd-winter Kumlien's Gull.  My first!

I was able to get a little closer to get this footage, but the sun was causing a bit of saturation.  The flaps it does was the only time I saw it open it's wings (pause it, and you may just be able to see the key features!).

I'm pretty happy with that find I have to say!

Later on whilst on my break at work, I was able to pop into Ferrybridge, and just catch a Buzzard flying from the island onto the mainland, over Portland Harbour.  Proper migration!

I predict the first Wheatear tomorrow (though I won't find it, as I'm working all day!).

I do realise my posts have been a little Gull-heavy lately, but what can I say, they're big and easy to photograph!

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