Tuesday, 24 December 2013

Arctic Ghost of Christmas Present

Ivory gull. A real five star rarity from the frozen north, this 'Arctic vulture' is a less than annual visitor to our shores and I'd seen just once previously, in 1997. 2013 has proven to be a mega year for rare birds and one of the highlights of its final month was an unprecedented arrival of ivory gulls - I think seven individuals were involved, beating the previous best annual total by one. Most didn't hang around but one in Yorkshire did and soon started to draw crowds as it paid regular visits to a feeding station where fish had been left out for it! I paid my respects on my birthday and enjoyed wonderful views.

It was initially distant, perched on rocks at the edge of the mud flat but was eventually flushed by a peregrine, after which it had a good fly around. It showed some interest in the feeding station but decided to sit on top of a roof for a while and only came in to the feeding station mid afternoon as the light was just beginning to go (not to feed but rather strut about a bit, pose for some photos and have a drink from a puddle!) We watched it at a range of about 20 metres on the ground and had flight views down to about half that so everyone went home happy!

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