A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

A tale of nature, wildlife and birding from Cheshire, North Wales and across the globe....

Thursday, 12 February 2015

You've got to be having a laugh

With an alert popping up on my phone during a meeting on Tuesday causing panic after a Laughing Gull was reported at New Brighton, which then proceeded to show well on and off for the rest of the afternoon, it was a tense few days before I could really do anything about it. With work and the fact that Alex had parent’s evening and extra tuition from Tuesday – Thursday throwing a spanner in the works, it wasn’t until later on in the week that I could make it up there.

Just as I was leaving work, the dreaded news broke that the gull had flown off inland at half 1, and with just a narrow window that day in which to see it, the drive over was a little nervy.

Arriving at the Marine Lake, there was still no sign, and a walk along the promenade checking the beach and surrounding area proved fruitless. The bird had apparently flown off over Morrisons, but chatting to a local revealed that the bird usually returns to the lake around 3pm each day, so I decided that the best option would be to head back to the pontoon.

Whilst scanning the gulls lining the distant breakwater by Fort Perch lighthouse and feeling a touch despondent that this was going to be a dip, my mum of all people exclaimed there was a lone gull standing on the pontoon. Turning round to take a look, I was stunned to see that this was our target – the Laughing Gull had returned!!
Laughing Gull
Originally on the other side of the pontoon, we crossed over by the restaurants to get a better view.
Laughing Gull

It wasn’t until later that I found out she wasn’t as eagle eyed as she’d led me to believe, and had instead just spotted another birder raising his bins and looking excitedly in the direction of the pontoon instead of the actual gull itself….

Phoning Alex, he made a mad dash over from somewhere far up the promenade, wheezing like an 80 year old man as he set up his scope. Glad and relieved that we had connected with this often hard to come across gull, the first winter individual showed really well for around half an hour, at one point taking flight to snaffle some of the bread thrown down by one of the locals and swooping round right in front of us.
Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

Laughing Gull

Differing from our similar sized Black-headed Gulls by the slightly elongated bill, more lengthy appearance and light brown colouration on the wings, this American visitor has proved harder to catch up with these last few years, after a huge influx back in 2005/06 when an amazing 104 possible individuals made it across to these shores. With only 26 records in the 8 years since however, and several being one day birds with really only one twitchable record up in Aberdeenshire, this was a much welcome opportunity relatively close to home.

Map showing the distribution of Laughing Gulls in the UK back in 2005/06

With some having a reputation for being long stayers – including the current Ballycotton bird in Ireland which has been present for over a year, there is every chance that this bird may follow suit and stick around for the coming weeks. 

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