Monday, 22 August 2016

The Twitch That Wasn't!

I abandoned any hope of reaching the end of my unplanned four days out of birding today, it's put down large quantities of rain in the past 18 hours and is still doing so, the local radio station is putting out flood alerts here and there, and I don't go birding to get soaked, so here I am wasting my life away staring at a computer screen. 

Yesterday with KT, we were stuck in Lancaster traffic when I received a much appreciated text alert to tell me of an adult summer plumage Sabine's Gull on the beach off the Battery car park. How fortuitous, as Morecambe was our destination, and given a clear run from the Bus Station in Lancaster we could have been there in around 10 minutes, as the traffic was it took 30 minutes. But all this mattered not, when we arrived at the said car park that's all we found, cars parked and not a birder in sight. Later we hear, apparently the bird had flown within three minutes of being found....The twitch that wasn't!

Sabine's Gull. Martin Lofgren @ Wild Bird Gallery  

The first record of a Sabine's Gull (SG) in Britain was of a bird at Milford Haven, Pembrokeshire, in the autumn of 1839. But an earlier record is of one in Northern Ireland at Belfast Lough in autumn 1822, four years after the species was first discovered in Greenland by Edward Sabine.

With the exception of autumn this is an exceptionally rare species in Britain at any time of the year. Oakes writes, the first Lancashire record was of an immature SG at Morecambe in October 1893, the first modern record of a SG in Lancashire, is of a bird at Blackpool in September 1950. 

The SG breeds across Alaska, northern Canada, Greenland, and north east Siberia, they winter in the eastern Pacific off north west South America, and in the south east Atlantic off south west Africa. The SG leaving breeding grounds in Greenland, do so by the middle of September, adults leaving before juveniles, most move across the Atlantic towards south west Europe, it's when this passage encounters westerly gales that numbers are pushed onto the western coasts of Britain.  

Many thanks for the excellent in flight Sabine's Gull (juvenile) much appreciated Martin.  

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