Sunday, 19 January 2014

Footwear malfunctions......

The plan today was to do my WeBS, then walk over the ridge up to Merthyr, and it started well. Despite the heavy fog first thing my WeBS, around Parc Taf Bargoed, pulled in 20 Little Grebe (highest number this winter), and single redhead Goosander The Canada Geese and the other 4 Goosanders from last Monday where no where to be seen. The star of this mornings show was a single Water Rail, my first at this site, right at the top of the site, near the climbing centre.

The bad news was that my boot was rubbing on my left heel and a quick look while walking round, showed that my heel was rubbed raw and was bleeding. So back home, plasters on, and decide on a new plan as I didn't think my feet would take the 8 - 16 mile yomp round the Taf Bargoed valley (depending on the time I had thought of getting the train back down.). As thew Thayer's Gull had been seen again yesterday. I decided on another try for this high Arctic North American spp.

Arriving at the car park just about 11am, I made my way out to the beach. Only one birder could be seen (turned out to be Alex Bevan), over by the causeway to Burry Homs. I walked out to the waters edge to keep the sun behing me and view the gulls further back on the island. After about 10mins I picked the Thayer's up as it briefly landed on the rocks. At this point Alex was no where to be seen. 5 mins later the gull reappeared, and stood on the rock for a couple of minutes before taking off.

During this time I noticed that when the occasional wave washed over my feet, the left foot was getting wet. An inspection of the boot showed the slow was coming away from the rest of the boot, and they are only about 6 weeks old! Back to the shop with these tomorrow!

Not long afterwards I was joined by a few birders, inc Alex, and the gull was soon relocated flying around towards the rear of the island. In flight it was far more distinctive than at rest. from below it most closely resembled a 1st winger Glauc' or Iceland, looking very pale, particularly the underwings. A dark edge to the outer prim's, however was quite distinctive. From above, it looked more like a washed out Herring gull and the two tone, outer primaries gave a darker outer hand than would be seen in a Glauc', or Iceland. We then made our way onto to the Island where the gull gave great views as it constantly flew around, at times right at eye level. After about an hour I departed.

 Also distinctive, as can be seen in this record shot, the gull spent most of the time flying around with it's feet hanging down - not sure if that a useful pointer to identification, but it could be useful for locating the gull in flight in poorer light.

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