Saturday 31 January 2009

Little Gulls

After missing several Little Gulls yesterday I had decided to get out seawatching early this morning hoping some more would oblige, after all the weather conditions were much the same. At 8:00 I was just making my way through the boat park at the yacht club when I got a text from Gav, it said "7 Now!" This was the first time I'd looked at my phone for about half an hour because I'd 'put it down somewhere' (like you do). I had therefore missed an earlier text and was obviously wondering, 7 whats? When I arrived outside the clubhouse Gav and Bun were watching seven Little Gulls! (somehow I think you'd guessed that by now). Six of them flew almost overhead and up the river, the seventh vanished, probably landing on the sea. Lots of gulls were moving from the sea to the river and back all the while, so it was difficult to keep track of how many Littles there were exactly but I reckon at least ten, possibly eleven. A few were definitely new because they passed by much further out and kept going. The sea was generally pretty quiet but the Little Gulls were more than entertaining enough, with several eventually returning to loiter and feed just a few waves out from the beach. They really were very smart and especially enjoyable because I'd only ever seen singles before. Gav decided to try and digiscope one before he left, I must admit I'd been thinking about this possibility too and I eventually decided to have a go at it for a couple of reasons.

1) Being such a maniacal egotist I couldn't sit back and watch Gav get a patch photo scoop (I think ?) all to himself, now could I?!
2) Although conditions were hideous I could see Gav sitting on the beach, scope and camera employed, looking all comfy and relaxed...erm I thought....obviously it's a doddle then!

Bun kindly minded my scope while I popped home for my camera but before I'd managed to set it up, a single close Little Gull moved quickly past me to the east so I had to head off down the yacht club car park in pursuit. The car park is very exposed and it was FREEZING! I set to work waving camera and scope in the correct general direction and within about a minute my hands were next to useless with the cold, (I can't work the camera's titchy buttons with gloves on), my gloves had blown away and then my scope fell over! I soon gave up, but fortunately I did get a few recognisable shots, thank goodness for continuous shooting mode!

Most of my shots were turning out like this stunning effort... the bird is in it... just!

Then this happened. I was still shooting as my scope blew over!

Here's a few of my best efforts, upper wing, under-wing and paddling:

Nice birds, seen really well. Definitely worth getting frozen!

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