December 18th   Leave a comment

Ken Shaw found a glaucous gull at Kingsbarns at lunchtime. I was there 15 minutes later. My last glaucous gull was Jan 1st 2017 and I have only seen a handful on the Crail patch. And I couldn’t resist the chance to get both Iceland and glaucous gull on the same year list. Ken had given his usual excellent directions but it was still a hunt because there were over a thousand gulls spread out over the rocky shore and sea at the north end of the golf course. The tide was coming in so they were close enough to see easily but not too close that they were spooked by the people walking along the coastal path. I knew I was looking for a juvenile so it was a huge, pinky-white gull to search for. It took about five minutes, and I found it on the far left hand side of the gulls. I had started right to left of course. More fun that way in retrospect, but worrying at the time. Glaucous gulls are easy birds – bigger than herring gulls, a great-black backed gull aggressive look and the bill in the juvenile is two tone – pink with a black tip. It was great to see in the kaleidoscope of gulls – common, black-headed, great-black-backed and herring, even a couple of Mediterranean gulls. And the leucistic herring gull added to the mix to make the gull identification session complete. This bird has been around since the summer between Kenly Water and Kingsbarns although this is the first time I have seen it. It is a very handsome bird – pure white with a black bill and eye. It looks long-winged like an Iceland gull but lacks the relatively short body of an Iceland gull, the domed head shape and the Mediterranean gull like bill. As it sat amongst the herring gulls it was easy to see that the bird had exactly the same structure: on its own, or flying by, it would certainly get you going though.

Glaucous gull – number 172 for the Crail patch year list after the Iceland gull of November 26th
Composite of the glaucous gull at Kingsbarns today. Much bigger than the other gulls and the bill is very distinctive.
The glaucous gull looking as artistic as they ever get (JA)
Leucistic herring gull at Kingsbarns (top) to compare to the shape of an Iceland gull (the one at Fife Ness earlier this autumn). The head shape gives it away.

Posted December 18, 2020 by wildcrail in Sightings

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