Friday, 10 January 2014

Milton Gull Fest!

Yes, more gulls.

Milton Tip became a bit of a local patch for me last winter. I visited once a week throughout the winter and bar my first and last visit, I had Caspian gulls every time (not to mention a couple of glaucs). My best day count was five (a photo I had of a 1st winter was even 'bombed' by another as I found out only when I checked my pics later) but a multi-observer count around the same time yielded a minimum of 9 birds. The only count I know of in the UK higher than this is a recent one of 11 made at Dungeness.

I don't think last winter was a one-off though. Caspians are back in force in similar numbers this year and the white-wingers are here too. I saw evidence of this today on a three hour visit this afternoon when I had NINE species in and around the tip - juvvy Iceland & glaucous and a minimum of 4 Caspian gulls. Comparing notes with other observers there were at least 7 of the latter present. (edit: 2x 3rd winters seen the following day by other obs brings the weekend minimum to 9 individuals, with 2x 2nd winters present on the Monday boosting this to a whopping 11+).

My only other birding outing recently was a trip to the Brecks for the crossbills - no sign of the parrots but even here, gulls turned out to be the highlight. A small flock of about 150 lured me off the A11 and they included a brutish and classic 1st winter Caspian.

Caspian gull, Brecks - large bird, probably a male

1st winter Caspian gull (centre with 3rd w herring) - a dark-billed individual
1st winter glaucous gull

Another good-sized 1st winter Caspian (second from right at the top of the bank) and an adult michahellis below and to the right


  1. Great stuff mate! Was hoping to do some gulling myself soon and being Cambridge-based Milton shouldn't be too much hassle. Any advice on where to view from when the tip's in action? I gather the layby on the A10 is good for birds in the adjacent fields- anywhere else/any view of the actual tip?

    1. Hi Louis, from Milton Park & Ride you need to head west down Butt Lane (away from the traffic lights). After half a mile or so there's an area to park on the left with a farm and a barrier across the path. Follow the public footpath south for half a mile and then cut through the trees to view from the tip's west perimeter fence. Remember not to go on a sunday as the tip's closed (a mistake I still sometimes make!). Good luck!