Saturday 11 February 2017

Thayer's Gull on the beach

I'd been keen on getting across to Mie all week to sift through the gulls but by Friday night snow had been falling heavily (by local standards), more was forecast for Saturday, and a night drive over the quite mountain road wasn't so appealing. But never underestimate the pulling power of gulls.

I left at 01:30 and with half the distance covered I was almost the only vehicle on the road crunching and bumping over ridges of frozen car-tracked snow left by those who'd already reached their destinations at a sensible hour. It was the dark areas with now snow that were the most worrying though. With the climb towards the pass now before me I stopped off at a convenience store and wasn't so surprised to find a few late night travellers making the best of a bad job. Fortunately I was now within easy striking distance of the ever-busy Meihan National Highway, it meant a roundabout route to the coast but it would get me round, through and under the mountains. About 60 kilometres to the north of my destination seemed preferable to inching directly over the top.

I arrived at dawn, later than hoped for, only to find the wind blowing a gale under a clear sky. Not exactly gulling conditions (the forecast had said overcast all day with frequent snow flurries... but what do they know!). In the event I put off going to the gull beach till mid-afternoon by which time it was plain there's be no improvement in the weather.

There were far more gulls than I've seen so far this winter but the vast majority were hunkered down in tight groups facing into the wind and without my scope, purposely left in the car, there wasn't much to catch the eye. just before the light started to fail and I found this adult Thayer's. I'd seen my first ever adult Thayer's less than a year ago on this same beach but then I'd known there was one in the area. This bird was far more satisfying, both a total surprise and giving better views.

As you can see from the following series of images the light quickly faded and though the Thayer's didn't fly far there wasn't any point in following.

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