Friday, 2 March 2018

Arctic Mega & White Wingers

Well the usual white winger that we see is adult Mediterranean Gull which move back for the breeding season, Jackie and I see and hear them almost daily as they go to and fro from the nesting island over our bungalow calling.  Though in the winter we always hope for the larger white wingers in Glaucous or Iceland Gull to visit, here in Poole as the harbour is so large it can be difficult to find one of these arctic species, Weymouth however  is so well watched they get found if they are around. Glaucous Gulls started turning up in mid February at West Bexington, then Ferrybridge followed by Lodmoor and Radipole.  But no one in the UK would have thought of the gull that turned up at Ferrybridge on the 21st, an adult Ross's Gull, a tern sized gull that is very much sought after by almost every birder in Britain.  

It's not a well known fact that this gull nearly had a different name but the story started with James Clark Ross who was a midshipman and expedition naturalist who shot one of two gulls which seemed to be new to science when exploring the Melville Peninsula.  When they returned to Britain Captain Parry the expedition leader commissioned zoologist Dr John Richardson to describe the natural history material and presented Richardson with one of the gulls. Richardson named the gull Cuneate-tailed Gull Larus Rossii, but the results of Parry's voyage wasn't published until 1825.  The other specimen was given to the Edinburgh University Museum where William MacGillivray named the gull Ross's Rosy Gull Larus roseus and because his description was published first he gained the credit.

Incidently Ross's Goose was named by John Cassin after the Hudson Bay Company Factor Bernard R. Ross.
Ross's Gull in flight © John Wall
Ross's Gull with Mediterranean Gulls - Lodmoor © Ian Ballam

I'd like to thank both John Wall and Ian Ballam for allowing us to use their excellent photographs of this very beautiful small gull.  It would be nice if it stayed around to show its summer plumage fully.

Fortunately Jackie and I have seen this species before a few years ago down in Plymouth and though we have tried three times for this individual and haven't connected, but hopefully it will stay around and we will get lucky.  There has been about 140 records in Britain and Ireland not surprisingly there is a northern bias to the records.

Though the Ross's Gull eluded us we had compensation with these big brutes of a gull, in two possibly three different Glaucous Gulls, two at Lodmoor and another at Radipole two days later.

2cy Glaucous Gull - Lodmoor 23rd Feb © Nick Hull
2cy Glaucous Gull number 2 - Lodmoor © Nick Hull
2cy Glaucous Gull & 1st/W Herring Gull - Radipole 24th Feb © Nick Hull

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