Monday, 12 March 2012

A White-winger on the Otter!

My weekly visit to the Otter at Budleigh produced a surprise star! It started with a wander up the East side of the estuary with Vera. It was a gorgeous sunny day, in fact a bit too sunny as the glare prevented me from  seeing anything other than silhouettes on the estuary. There was a fair amount of activity in the trees including Long-tailed, Coal & Blue Tits, Chaffinch, Greenfinch & Bullfinch. Meanwhile several Skylarks were singing overhead across the fields.

View from the East side
I gave V her tea & left her in the van whilst I walked up the West bank. There weren't many gulls on the meadows, just a few Herrings and a Greater Black-backed. Normally I just hang about there for a while & then head back, but the hide was full so I decided to have a quick dash down to the front to see if there were any divers or grebes. When I looked East, I saw a couple of divers, but I couldn't work out what they were. It was flat calm, but a bit hazy. I was going to be cutting it fine for collecting Simon at 1645, but I decided to live dangerously & head down to the end of the spit for a closer view. It was only when I got half way along that I noticed another birder on the point & recognised  David, who led the the DBWPS meeting on the Otter & knows what he's talking about, or should I say looking at. Handy!

He told me that he had a couple of Red-throated Divers in the scope, then casually mentioned that there was a Glaucous Gull on the estuary behind us. I think I probably started jumping about in excitement at that point! David quickly located it for me, swimming about in among the Herring Gulls. I then found it in my scope & had a long look. Lovely white Primaries, in fact fairly white all over with pale markings. I looked it up & we concluded that it was a 1st Winter bird. This wasn't just a Year List tick, but a Life tick for me!

Update: Well, it just goes to show that I need to do more homework when it comes to gulls! It turns out that it was in fact an Iceland & not a Glaucous Gull. Oh well, just a Year tick then. In fact, I'm debating whether I can count it at all. I think I'd better stick to something easier, or maybe take up basket weaving.

What a lovely day for an Glaucous Iceland Gull!

It's one of those.....

I couldn't resist another quick look at the divers. There were 6 of them, they were difficult to see as but it looked like they could be Red & Black-throated Divers.

It was now 1645 & I still had to get back to the van at the White Bridge & then drive to East Budleigh. I finally got there at about 1715. Luckily, Simon's still talking to me!

Year List now on 141 & 1 Sub-species


  1. No, no! Not the basket weaving! Please don't give up on those gulls; Glaucous/Iceland is a tricky pair, but once you know what to look for to separate them it's not long before gulls will begin to lose their power to intimidate! ;o)

    Enjoying your blog.

    PS. I meant to say a few posts back - yes, definitely a Lesser Black-backed Gull.

  2. Gavin

    Thanks for the words of encouragement! I haven't managed to get to the wicker shop yet, so maybe I'll persevere! Once you've finished your Caspian Gull series, maybe you could start a sequel?

    At least I got the Lesser Black-backed right!

    Glad you're enjoying my ramblings.


  3. Just found this through Gav's links, nice scene shots to inspire revisits of many places. I will keep looking on this blog.


  4. Andrew
    That's great feedback! Thanks!