Sunday, 23 February 2014

A blizzard of gulls as the flood water recedes - February 2014

The water level on the River Meon has been steadily receding over the last couple of days and this has resulted in meadows being transformed into large areas of exposed mud. The wetland habitat left looks ideal for visiting waders and with reports of Green Sandpipers on other river valleys in the county, I have been checking the fields regularly in the hope of adding one to the patch list. 

Mixed flock of Black-headed, Common and Mediterranean Gulls

There has not been much of note most days, but today was different. As I approached the river I noticed a large flock of gulls feeding on the newly exposed mud, many more than the usual 30 or so. Quickly scanning through the flock it appeared that it consisted of mainly Black-headed and Common Gulls, but then I heard the distinctive mewing call of a Mediterranean Gull. Scanning through the flock again it was not long before I had picked up four Med Gulls in with an estimated 500+ Black-headed and around 100 Common Gulls.

Two Med Gulls with Common and Black-heads

The Meds gulls were starting to come into breeding plumage and so were exhibiting nearly full jet black hoods. By contrast most of the Black-heads were still in winter plumage, and where they were not, their dark brown hoods and smaller size made the meds stand out. The whole flock was quite jumpy and would occasionally take flight, the mewing call of the Meds stood out from the cacophony produced by the whole flock. The Meds stood out again in flight due to there all white wing tips, can you see the one in the picture below?

Can you see the Med Gull?

I did not have my scope with me and so was unable to work my way through the flock in detail but hopefully the birds will hang around for a few days. Before heading off I had a quick scan of the nearby pond and was pleased to see a pair of Shoveler. These birds were not present yesterday so it looks like birds are starting to move around.

The pair of Shoveler on the Pond 

So two new species for the patch year list and hopefully as spring approaches there will be more surprises to come.


  1. I love reading about other peoples local patches, your's sure beats mine, a med gull would be a first, I get excited about common gulls lol.

    1. Fortunately we are blessed with Med Gulls down here on the south coast of Hampshire, I had two more over the garden on Sunday! Where is your patch?


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