Sunday, 13 January 2013

Ring-billed Gull

Various people had told me about the Ring-billed Gull on Walpole Lake in Gosport. It appears to have been returning every winter for a number of years and when I checked on the web I found reports going back to 2003. Given that the bird has a life expectancy of 10 to 15 years I thought I had best make the effort to get down there to see it before it was too late.

The day got off to a good start when I came across this Kestrel sitting by the side of the road. Not brilliant lighting conditions but on a cold January morning its nice to be able to just stick the camera out of the car window.

This looks like a regular perch so there may be better pictures to be had in the future.

I arrived at the boating lake at Walpole Park and spent about an hour searching the area without any sight of the Ring-billed Gull, Waldo as he is called. Thought I was on to him a couple of times but they were both Common Gulls which look very similar.

Getting cold and bored I resolved to move on to Titchfield Haven and return for Waldo later in the day. Titchfield was very quiet. A few birds mostly Lapwings and Oystercatchers on the islands in the middle of the lake and very little moving. I spent an hour staring at some reeds where there was supposed to be a Bittern, but if it was there it had decided not to show itself. The only picture I took at the site was of something that should not have been inside the electrified fence.

As I walked back to the car looking for movement in the trees I managed to cap my session at Titchfield by walking off the path into a hidden gulley and filling both boots with water and soaking my trousers to the knee. At least I did not drop the camera into the water.

So back to Gosport and the search for Waldo. No luck again and after an hour I retired to the car to warm up before returning home. Switched on the engine, started to drive out the car park and then thought I should give it one final try before leaving. Glad I did as Waldo was standing at the far end of the boating pool.

Ring-billed Gull

I had hoped to get some pictures in flight but he did not seem very active. Even when all the other gulls were spooked he only raised his head for a casual look around.

Ring-billed Gull

 Interesting to compare him with a Common Gull.

Common Gull

 The heavier beak and yellow eye are the key identification points. The upper parts are a paler grey than the Common but this is not obvious unless they are seen together as shown below. Apologies for the Common Gull being out of focus.

Ring-billed gull in the foreground with Common Gull behind

Overall a poor days birding that was rescued by luck in the first and last half hours.

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