Rare gulls of a bit of a birdwatching speciality, and a lot of them I wouldn’t recognise. However after thousands of miles of coastal paddling I am steadily getting my eye in.
Mediterranean gulls used to be an unusual sight but are now regular around the southwest. They appear in late summer and there are quite a few still around now. I think they disappear off to breed on the continent in the Spring.
They look like a large Black-headed gull but with very white wings. And very bright red feet.
More exciting gull encounters occurred during a paddle along the coast to Mevagissey last week. (Threshold of ‘excitement’ is certainly lowered in the winter……gulls get overlooked for much more exciting stuff in the summer).
I was pretty pleased to see fifteen Great Northern Divers and a Slavonian Grebe in the open sea of Mevagissey bay, and then took a circuit around super-quaint Mevagissey harbour before the two hour paddle back to Porthpean.
Sitting on a moored boat in the outer harbour was the considerable bulk of a Glaucous Gull. The same size as a Great Black-backed but completely creamy white. Terrific….I have only seen one of these from my kayak before and only a handful ever. They breed in the arctic and a few stragglers arrive in UK in late winter, usually after Christmas.
I would say quite a charismatic bird but others might say it is only a seagull, which it is.
Much more remarkable is that about two minutes later , just outside the harbour, was a virtually identical pale gull, but a bit smaller, equal in size to a young Herring Gull it was chummy with. This was an Iceland Gull, a fare bit more unusual than a Glaucous. But in appearance virtually identical.
Either one of these would be pretty exciting on its own but to see both within a few minutes of each other was about as good as gulls can get.
Two ‘white-wingers’ in as many minutes.
Despite their name Iceland gulls only breed in Greenland.