A blizzard of Med Gulls on the marsh

Spring is a busy time at Farlington Marshes; migrants are moving through, breeding birds are staking claim to their territories and fences need to be checked in readiness for the arrival of our grazing stock. This year things have been even busier, as Rob Skinner our reserves officer for the area, after nearly four years with the Trust opted to return to his homeland in Somerset; we would like to wish him well in his new role and will hopefully see him back on the Marsh from time to time. In the meantime Emma Hunt is standing in, so if you are out and about on our southern reserves and bump into her, do say hello.

Last night and after a very busy and productive day in the office I took advantage of the glorious weather conditions and headed down to the marsh for a bit of birding. It was a perfect evening with calm and sunny conditions and a rising tide, which I hoped may force a migrant wader or two onto the marsh to roost, although the primary purpose of the visit was to look for Northern  Lapwing chicks. The water levels on the Lake were still high and as such there was little exposed mud, a lone Northern Wheatear was feeding at the back, and a lapwing sitting next to a tussock near the water’s edge, were the only birds of note. I continued around the seawall heading towards the point, Sandwich, Common and Little Terns were all feeding over the shallow water and a flock of eight Whimbrel and a single Bar-tailed Godwit appeared from the south, circled over the marsh and headed east.

Sedge Warblers appeared abundant in the point field, and as I re-joined the seawall I was greeted by a Little Tern feeding over the calm water just offshore. I took advantage of the good, but gradually dimming light to get some action shots of this diminutive species.


Little Tern – Farlington Marsh


Little Tern – Farlington Marsh


Little Tern – Farlington Marsh


Little Tern – Farlington Marsh

I had previously noticed a flock of around 60 Mediterranean Gulls feeding on the mid marsh and there was a constant stream moving overhead. By the time I reached the Deeps the flock had grown to more than 100, occasionally they would take flight, looking like what I can only describe as a blizzard of Med Gulls. There was a mixture of ages, 1st and 2nd summer and full adult birds; the gentle mewing call was a joy to be heard on an otherwise tranquil evening.


Mediterranean Gull – presumed 2nd summer with black tips to some of the primary feathers


Part of the flock of Mediterranean Gulls; mainly adults but also 1st and 2nd summer birds

The Deeps provided more in the way of variety than the Lake, a roosting flock of 54 Oystercatchers, four Common Redshank, Tufted Ducks (at least 2 pairs), Pintail, Shelduck, Gadwall, a pair of Eurasian Wigeon and a single Dark Bellied Brent Goose. A scan over the marsh produced five Lapwing chicks of varying ages; two in a wet pool closest to the Deeps appeared to be only a few days old.


Lapwing chick (background) presumably with parent in the foreground

As I headed back to the car park a family of Coot were busy at the eastern end of the Stream, and several Common Whitethroats were present in the bushes.


Family of Coots on the Stream


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