Friday, 20 August 2010

Scouting For Gulls

I've been getting rather fed up of reporting Yellow-legged Gulls and to a lesser extent Caspian Gulls in profusion almost everywhere else in the country except the North East. There is one landfill left in the county and after some discussion with Stef Mcelwee who has been trying to get to grips with the gulls there I thought I would have a drive and walk around the area this morning and see what I could find. The problem with the tip itself is that it is about 30m high and the active part is barely visible, security fences abound a good 20m away from the base of the mound. Impossible to view as there is no vantage overlooking it.

Next stop over toward Backworth south of the pond where some landscaping has taken place and the spoil heap has been covered. Some of the large gulls are roosting here and commuting to and from the tip but again viewing is nigh on impossible, I reckon I could see c.10% of the birds in the roost.
Next up Stef had highlighted some of the gulls are using a nearby factory roof, Again frustratingly viewing was very restricted, although it was obvious that the majority of the gulls from the tip were using this roost around late morning today (see pics below).

The Gulls I could see.

And the Ones I Couldn't...all 339 of them

Travelling between these two sites I found about 100 gulls in a freshly ploughed field, pulled in and set up the scope. I find large gulls spook at the sight of a scope sometimes, three minutes into the flock and whoosh up they go. I was about to curse myself when a greyish brown chunky raptor charged across the field before lifting up into the gulls above and cutting back across above me about 10m away. The immature Peregrine well and truly cleared the field, all the gulls wheeling away back east. I checked back again thirty minutes later to find a still empty field.

As I headed back past the factory entrance I noticed some of the gulls had spilled onto a nearby school field so I had one last stop, again maybe 100 large gulls including a couple of Lesser Black-backed Gulls and a juvenile Common Gull. It was raining by now and interesting to note some of the gulls adopting rain postures during the heaviest showers (not in the image).

 Common Gull -juvenile

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