Its been a difficult week, having opted for the Sabines on Wednesday I then had to endure a number of days where little things meant I could not go for the Ring-Billed Gull in Preston. Finally though my time came and by half past nine of Saturday morning I was at Preston Docks finally enjoying the Ring-Billed Gull.
As I arrived there were more birders than I had expected. However, I decided to try and find the gull myself, which I managed after about 10 mins of sifting through the gulls on the wavebreakers. The problem was that it was asleep and distant. After a while I tossed it some bread but there was no response from any of the gulls.
However, it was not longer before more birders arrived so more bread was thrown, and that seemed to wake it up a bit and it flew across to the near wavebreakers. After a little hesitation it was even persuaded to come onto the very closest, and it does not need to be said that the views we were getting were absolutely outstanding.
In the end I was there for three hours, while the bird showed often very close and well but sometimes more distant. I took 1000 photos in the end and the best of these are below. It was a superb bird, complete with a ring on its bill, as if I could ask for any more. Well worth waiting for. When in flight you can clearly see the gaps in the wings showing it is well into its moult. With that in mind I would think the bird will be around for some time yet.
The docks were actually a pretty decent birding spot. I was very surprised to find that there was a colony of Common Terns on the wavebreakers which seemed to have a good number of nesting pairs and quite a few chicks of different ages could be seen.
There were a number of other gulls present on the breakers, and the hunt was on to find the reported Yellow Legged Gull. I only managed to string 3 birds before getting it. The first was almost plumage perfect for a YLG but was a pretty small bird and as such we decided it probably was not. The second was a Lesser Black-Backed with a little bit of notching and very long primary extensions. The third was the bird that had been seen previously, with perfectly notched plumage on a whitish head. It was a hefty bird, dwarfing the herring gulls around it. So that was a nice added bonus.
-Yellow Legged Gull
For an urban spot, Preston docks made for a great days birding with a lifer and a chance to continue working on my gulls. Not bad going at all.
Preston Docks: Cormorant, Mallard, Great-Crested Grebe, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Coot, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Herring Gull, Yellow-Legged Gull, Ring-Billed Gull, Black-Headed Gull, Magpie, Common Tern, Moorhen, Swallow, Swift,