Tuesday 3 July 2012

Sabine's Gull

News of a Sabine's Gull, a lifer for Elis, at Tring (thanks once again to Simon Nicholls) was too much for us to bear. Loads to do and it all got left as we shot from the house and sped to Startops End.
A small group had gathered by the time we had arrived. The gull can be seen
here 45° up to the right of the boulder to the left of the picture, against the
grass. Some observers here have already had their fill and the socialising
begins, often with backs to the bird.
The gull engaged in a bit of formation flying with the local Common Terns
Elis photographing the Sabine's Gull which has been subtly highlighted for you
The bird was on view when we arrived and continued to be so until we left. It came very close and allowed fantastic views.
Close encounter
Diving for food
It often plunged below the surface to feed
It really is an amazing looking gull, the upper wing pattern is most striking. There was no black tip to the tail so it was not a juvenile but by the same token it did not have a bright yellow tip to the bill, this was so dull that it was not easily discernable in the field. So, not quite an adult, presumably then this was in 1st winter plumage still moving into first summer?
This shot shows the upperwing pattern well as the bird stalls in flight having
seen a tasty morsel in the water below
The yellowish tip is just visible in this shot (well it is in the original anyway!)
Here the notched tail shape can be seen
Classic bird, a real beauty
As mentioned in the first caption, it was great for me to be at a bird where I knew some folk from the past meeting up with Mike Illet, Bob Henry, Tony Clark and of course Lee Evans (even if Lol Carmen denied ever knowing me). Elis also took a couple of photos of other birds collecting food for nestlings along the reservoir wall where there seemed to be a plentiful supply of insects.
Male Blackbird collecting food.
Female Pied Wagtail taking advantage too.


  1. Brilliant stuff Rick and Elis. I would've enjoyed the opportunity to visit the old patch and meet up with some of the "Herts Tarts".


    1. Ah yes, the old 'Herts Tarts', those were the days... Now of course I am one of the 'Bucks...' well, actually I don't think they have a rhyming moniker, which is just as well. The bird was great too, shame you couldn't be there, it's about time we shared a libation or two.

  2. Has Elis seen the Scottish birds yet? Could be a good spring trip?

    1. Elis has seen most of the Scottish stuff, but not Dotterel which on balance is probably easier to see here on passage. Having said that, a spring trip to Scotland is always worth it. Perhaps staying at that place you showed on your blog, that looked great.