GULLS, GULLS

The rarest birds of Jan­uary were dom­i­nated by lar­ids

Bird Watching (UK) - - Gear -

NEW YEAR’S DAY re­sulted in 229 species be­ing recorded in Bri­tain and Ire­land and by the end of Jan­uary 2016, that fig­ure had risen to 242, a very poor to­tal by com­par­i­son to re­cent years; the rea­son for this be­ing the con­tin­u­ing mild con­di­tions, with very lit­tle in the way of snow and ice away from the High­lands of Scot­land. Most of Europe was also un­sea­son­ally mild, al­though the Nether­lands did very well in at­tract­ing a wide ar­ray of very rare va­grants, in­clud­ing a crack­ing male Siberian Rubythroat of un­known ori­gin. For us, it was a slow start to the year, high­lights all be­ing larid, with a Ross’s Gull in West Corn­wall for a few days, a Franklin’s Gull briefly in Cam­bridgeshire and Hert­ford­shire, a Bon­a­parte’s Gull in Hert­ford­shire and a Glau­cous-winged Gull in Co. Cork. Pride of place how­ever went to the Western Palearc­tic’s first- ever Vega Gull – iden­ti­fied, pho­tographed and fully doc­u­mented by Kil­lian Mullar­ney at Dun­can­non Har­bour (Co. Wex­ford) from 10th-13th Jan­uary. This in­di­vid­ual was par­tic­u­larly un­pre­dictable in its be­hav­iour, with some 42 Ir­ish ob­servers con­nect­ing on its se­cond day and just two Bri­tish twitch­ers on its fourth day. Sub­se­quently, it was never seen again, de­spite a lot of search­ing. Lee Evans is the UK’S most well-known and fa­nat­i­cal ‘twitcher’, hav­ing recorded 585 species in Bri­tain and Ire­land, 863 in the wider Western Palearc­tic and 386 in just one cal­en­dar year in the UK. He has writ­ten many or­nitho­log­i­cal pub­li­ca­tions and runs nu­mer­ous bird­ing tours through­out the year, in­clud­ing cus­tom-led trips. Visit bbabird­ing.blogspot.co.uk and uk400­clu­brarebird alert. blogspot.co.uk The adult Pa­cific Diver re­mained through­out in Pen­zance Har­bour (Corn­wall), com­mut­ing be­tween New­lyn and just east of St Michael’s Mount, Marazion, de­pend­ing on weather con­di­tions and wind di­rec­tion, while in Co. Gal­way, one re­mained off Tawin un­til at least 28th. At least eight Cat­tle Egrets over­win­tered, with two in Som­er­set and sin­gles in south Devon, Nor­folk, Suf­folk and Coun­ties Lim­er­ick and Wex­ford, as well as 27 Great White Egrets. Glossy Ibises re­mained nu­mer­ous, par­tic­u­larly in Ire­land, where at least 14 re­mained at Gar­ryvoe (Co. Cork) from 16th-22nd, nine at Tramore Back­strand (Co. Water­ford) on 12th and six at Ti­moleague (Co. Cork) on 23rd-24th. Five longstay­ers re­mained in Bri­tain (Suf­folk, Es­sex, East Sus­sex, Som­er­set and South Devon) while new ar­rivals in­cluded sin­gles in Avon, Car­marthen­shire (at least five), Corn­wall, North Devon and Kent. A to­tal of 46 Spoon­bills over­win­tered, in­clud­ing 42 on the South Coast in Poole Har­bour (Dorset).

Glau­cous-winged Gull, Castle­town­bere Har­bour, Co. Cork, Ire­land, 14 Jan­uary

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