On 10 January 2014 I set out in the morning to go birding in the Cotswolds and to visit a bank. After a Shrike-less visit to Cirencester Park I visit the nearby town to pay in the cash from my son’s Christmas laptop saving fund for use of my credit card to purchase it. As I was nearby and had not visited for years I ended up in the Cotswold Water thinking it would be nice to see a drake Smew. I made my first stop at pit 57 to walk Ted (little family dog who gave me the pleading eyes when I was setting out hence getting to tag along) along the Thames. I was, as is usual drawn to the flocks of wildfowl but eventually turned my attention to the gulls.
Trying to scope through gaps in the hedge I saw what looked like an Iceland Gull among the Lesser Black-backed, Black-headed and Common Gulls. It was very difficult to get a decent view, it was breezy, the bird was on the far, sheltered, side of the lake and nearly always facing directly away from me (into the wind). I moved to new spots to get a side view and avoid the albeit weak low winter sun, being directly in line with the bird. I spent a long time with it trying to get some decent pictures, below are the best I could manage as I was also trying to soak up any flank-on views when it presented.
I did not see it flap very well, what I did see it appeared very white wing-tipped. It preened and showed the true extent of the dark chevrons on the primaries which were narrow. The bird spent most of the time asleep day-roosting on the water with the bill tucked away. I never got a flight view or saw the legs. In the end I ran out of time and had to leave but put news out as soon as I got a signal.
Some features that it sported…
rounded ‘inflated, Fulmar-like’ head, ‘friendly’ and soft looking.
even, smallish, non-fierce bill with blunt tip.
feint ghost chevrons on underside of primaries.
very narrow dark (not solid black) chevrons on upper side of primaries- I think dark grey. Right wingtip more well marked than left.
light head streaking with darker masks around eyes.
I was satisfied that I was watching an adult Kumlien’s Gull which I do not see very often. I did catch up with a bird on the Gloucester tip but had poor flight views only. A better experience was with a Kim Milson? found adult that roosted on nearby Pit 16 so many years ago I don’t remember the year.
Martin J McGill