Sunday, 13 November 2011

Thank heaven for Little Gulls!

There was plenty of activity at the farm yesterday. As I arrived in the car-park, a large flock of Redwings, which I estimated at 120, were flying low towards the Lizard village.  Following on behind were 40 or so Fieldfares. A few individuals from both groups dropped down to feast on our bountiful hawthorn berries. Meanwhile, this Black Redstart was catching flies from the roof of the outbuildings.

On towards Ruan Pool and some 350 Lapwings were flapping around, with at least 500 Golden Plover doing aerobatics above them.  I settled down in the hide with my telescope to scan through the gulls. This may be hard to believe, but in the first few years of the reserve's existence, Black-headed Gulls were very rare visitors. In fact, despite hundreds of hours of observer coverage, it was four years before the first record! That may have been because until then we didn't have a suitable body of water to attract them. But it's only in the last two years that they've become much more regular, both in the spring and the winter.  As far as I'm aware, local farming practices haven't changed recently, so that wouldn't account for them appearing in greater numbers at the southern end of the peninsula. Yesterday there were about 60 of them splashing about in the water and in the midst of them was the reserve's first ever Little Gull! This is a scarce passage migrant and winter visitor to Cornwall and was a very nice surprise. There were also two Common Gulls amongst the group, another bird we rather surprisingly rarely see on the farm.

Little Gull on Ruan Pool (okay, it's not a frame-filler........)