Follow in Nigel's Footsteps

Monday, 10 November 2014

Franklin's Gull...

After a busy week away in the 'Big Smoke' I really wanted to get out birding yesterday and decided to try for the long lingering Franklin's Gull, which has been coming in to roost most evenings at Blashford Lakes near Ringwood in Hampshire. I picked up Dave Helliar and we headed out (somewhat later in the day than usual), to try our luck.

We arrived at the Tern hide overlooking Ibsley Water at around 13:30 and it was pretty full even then! A long wait ensued with the bird not expected until just before dusk but at least there were other things to watch including a couple of black-necked grebes, a few goldeneye, gadwall, shoveler, pochard, teal - loads of greylag geese and  a mixed flock of several hundred distant gulls to pick through. As the clock neared half-four and the light started to fade the Franklin's was picked up 600 metres away towards the back of the lake!

They are surprisingly easy birds to pick out once you get your eye on them, the dark mantle and diagnostic head pattern make it 'pop out' but locating it in the first place among so many gulls isn't so straight forward. These are my best shots, taken in fading light on max magnification (x200) - which is why they look more like Renoir paintings if inspected too closely:

Franklin's Gull, Ibsley Water: R. Harris
Franklin's Gull, Ibsley Water...yes, just behind
the other gull: R. Harris

I've seen plenty in Canada but only one previous in the UK so pleased to have connected with it. Nearly up there with Meds and Laughing gulls in terms of looks for me - love 'em.

Slightly more obliging Little Grebe - they
even swim uphill here!: R. Harris

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