Saturday 7 February 2015

More Yanks

Saturday morning trip out with Tom to Nosterfield GP, near Ripon. Stacks of Wigeon on the Main Lake failed to hold the drake American Wigeon, but fine view of a massive flock of Golden Plovers and Lapwings was an impressive sight. A friendly local gave us some gen, which proved to be spot on. We drove round to the quarry, parked up and walked round to Flask Lake, where we were soon enjoying good views of the dapper Yank. A Little Owl called from the big ash trees behind us and we decided to walk round to get better views. A Green Woodpecker flew across and shortly a large goose flock in, which contained three Brents. We failed to see the White-fronted Geese, but two hybrids in the field could have been a trap for the unwary, as one had a good WFG head -fooled me briefly! The American Wigeon showed very well, as it followed the local Coots around, feeding on the weed they brought to the surface, in the manner of a Gadwall. There was a fair amount of grey on the scapulars, which I assume is normal and the pale crown stripe extended on to the back of the head, which I had not noticed before. A very fine reserve, and full credit to the Lower Ure Conservation Trust volunteers for making it so.

We headed back east to York and decided to have a go at the gulls. A large flock by the Wetherby Road roundabout was flushed by a dog walker before we could get parked and the microlights on the airfield meant there were no gulls anywhere! Frustrating. We headed back to Tom's and as luck would have it about 500 gulls had dropped into a ploughed field next to the Wetherby Road. Many of the gulls were hidden by a slight crest in the field, but as luck would have it, one of the more visible birds at the left hand end of the flock was a spanking adult Iceland Gull! On closer inspection, I got a bit excited as the bird showed grey outer webs to the primaries and some pale grey shadows on the primary tips - a Kumlien's! Surely this must be the regular winterer which had eluded me for the last two winters and the one Chris photographed on the refuge at Wheldrake Ings a few weeks ago. The bird showed brilliantly, before flying into the neighbouring field where it started feeding with a small flock of Herrings. After a bit of difficulty, I eventually managed to phonescope this smart bird. Smart. An adult Lesser Black-backed Gull was also present.

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