Sunday, 2 January 2011

Gulls... last minute Ansers during a moment of reflection

A preview of the big event... it is down to angles and a bit of luck when the gulls begin to pack in this tight... and this picture is before any arrive!

So as the light slowly disappeared on the second evening of 2011, I found myself sat overlooking the D Res gull roost at Tophill Low NR for the second time this year. And once again I ended up questioning myself as to why I decide to endure this.

The February of 2000 saw me enjoying the extravaganza of gulls coming in to roost on D Res for the first time. Masses of them, maybe 40,000 that evening. After losing count a long time ago of the number of cold winter evenings, cups of tea, semi- frozen Kipling pies, and how ever many hundreds of thousands of gulls I've scanned over, I still seem to enjoy looking through this huge spectacle of between 2000-20,000 birds coming in to roost... and leaving happy in the knowledge that nothing really interesting arrived other than big northern Herring Gulls and the few potential heinei candidates over the years! It has to be a strange and bizarre addiction I have!

The statistics prove it! Glaucous last appeared in 2009, Iceland way back in the winter of 2004/05 if memory serves me correctly though the period 2000-2004/5 was pretty good... I remember one chilly December evening both Glauc and Iceland were present! Meanwhile, Yellow-legged is an unexpected occasional bonus and Caspian Gull (I'll admit to throwing probably one or two really good ones away over 10 years) is still to be added to the site list, making it less common than Laughing Gull... and that was a 'short-time' wonder going back into the last millenia!

The big brutes line up... annoyingly all come with black primaries.

So how did my addiction bring me a high tonight? Well scanning the gulls didn't turn up anything out of the ordinary as usual other than 2 or 3 good looking 'proper evil looking' Northern Herring Gulls to far away to photograph, but as the light faded a couple of Goosander came in to roost and the Goldeneye numbers swelled.

First-winter Goldeneye pre-dark

And as my enthusiasm dwindled (and cursing started) some decent sounding geese dropped in right on last light as 9 Eurasian White-Fronts arrived with c320 Greylags. (A few White-fronts on the pager today from East Yorks).

White-fronted Geese in the dark!

But as I left tonight, looking at all the shutters shut on the hides, and arriving to an empty car park as 'D' held the highest number of birds all day, and no doubt the best species of the day, maybe these were tonight's Ansers I was searching for to justify yet another cold vigil over the res!

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