2012 has started with a bang due to 9 of us young bird ringers making a trip (my first trip) over to Ireland, to Galway where we spent 4 days catching gulls at Nimmo's Pier. 2011's trip saw a really good number of Common Gull being ringed, whereas 2012 saw only 1 Common with a supporting cast of 19 Black-headed Gulls and 4 Herring Gulls being hand caught.
8/9 - Me, Gillian, Craig, Brucey, Birdman, Kane, Ciaran, Andy 'Bigman' Denton (and, off camera, Heather.)
Nimmo's Pier has been a place of legend, personally, for the last 5 or so years due to its regular wintering gulls. As a larophile myself, I hated leaving the pier and heading back to the flat as anything could drop in at any moment! This week has seen a large influx of white-winged gulls in Britain and Nimmo's Pier didn't disappoint with at least 10 Iceland Gulls being seen along with the bird photographed twice below, which I photographed not realising it was actually a Kumlien's Gull! The two-tone bill, pale eye, dark marking on the underwing, and smokey tips to the primaries show this to be a 2nd winter Kumlien's Gull, although I will freely accept comments off my readers.
Iceland Gulls - 4x1st Winters, 2x2nd Winter, 2x 3rd Winter, 1x 4th Winter, 1x Adult Winter
In addition to the plethora of Iceland Gulls, our last morning was spent catching a few more Black-heads at Waterside, Galway. I had packed my camera, so I wasn't able to get any photos of interesting birds that happened to come into view. Sadly, it wasn't long before I picked up something that got the heart racing.
I had a very large dark 1stw Herring come into view that was more of a petey brown than the chocolate brown Herrings also present. It was very dark breasted with the brown extending down to the legs, the tertials were very dark with a thin pale fringe and the tail was all dark, with the outer tail feather being fully dark. Compared to the 4 1st Winter Herring Gulls that it was stood next to (literally 10 feet in front of us) it was considerably more brutish. A very very good candidate for American Herring Gull, and if I had seen this on the other side of the pond, I wouldn't have thought twice about it! Lets just hope that it gets seen again and photographed as it would be nice to get a self-found yank!
A thoroughly enjoyable few days and I couldn't have spent it with 8 better people! Thanks to everyone who made it enjoyable!