Monday, March 19, 2012

Iceland Gull, Bullock Harbour, Dublin

I started this morning in Brickfields Park (Drimnagh), looking for Brent Geese and finished my day seeing a 2nd winter Iceland gull in Bullock harbour, Dun Laoghaire.
Happy Days.
No Brent at all around Drimnagh or Crumlin.
I walked around Brickfields- nothing, checked Pearse park - nothing, Clonmacnoise roundabout - nothing, Sundrive Park - nothing and the gates to Dolphin park were locked.
That was the end of my Brent tag reading.

Drove over to Dun Laoghaire.
There were 12 Black guillemots harbour side of the East pier, the sun was on them and they looked in fine fettle, I could see their bright red feet paddling away under the clear sea. I also spotted a Purple Sandpiper, 50 Brent Geese, Turnstones and some 6 Med Gulls hanging out with their patchy breeding plumage starting to show. No Meadow pipits in the seaweed, so I'd assume they've gone up into the mountains.

Down at Bullock Harbour I tried to get to grips with aging Greater Black backed gulls.

I think this is a 1winter rather than a juv GBB, bill would be completely black on a juv and the pattern on the feathers would be stronger and more definite, this one looks worn and faded
2winter GBB, dark back starting to show and yellow starting to show on the bill
3 Winter GBB, bill nearly completely yellow, white spots starting to show on primaries and plain feathers starting to grow through on the back. The iris is now pale rather than dark brown.
Adult Greater Black backed gulls - look how florescent the gony spots are and you can even see the red eye ring from this distance. Greater black backed gulls cannot fail to impress - their size and strength is certainly Greater
Adult Greater black backed gull, Bullock Harbour, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin
If you want to practice your primary, secondary and tertiary feathers plus all coverts - here you go
So, here we are, little Iceland gull, look how small it is compared to the Greater Black backed.
Look how white it is - everywhere! A few brown tips showing, a little grey on the top, pink legs
White underwings too, faint brown mottling on rump and undertail
2nd Winter Iceland gull, pale yellowy iris, dark tip to pinkish bill. Very pale grey starting to show on the back.
Iceland gull, rare visitor to Ireland from Greenland, nearly always found in harbours and coastlines

I was caught unawares when I spotted the Iceland gull, it was really nice to have it wandering around so close - I've only seen an Iceland gull once before, about 4 years ago, funnily enough in Bullock harbour as well.
Anyway, Iceland gull time was cut short when some scuba divers got into the water and everything flew off. Dog walkers and scuba divers be damned.

Scuba divers, dog walkers of the sea.