Friday 11 December 2015

I'm leaving

This morning there were six or seven species of Gull on Wanstead Flats. I can only cope with about three at any one time, so I am leaving. Selling up. Moving. Not sure where to yet, but somewhere that is unattractive to Larids, like, errr. Actually I don't know, now that I think about it the bloody things are everywhere. For someone like me who is scared of Gulls and what they can do to you, the numbers now present and the interest that they are generating is very worrying. More worrying is that I started to take an interest, and this morning rather than stay cosy in bed I toddled off to the Alex looking for a rumoured Caspian Gull. I had thought I'd seen it last weekend in amongst the throngs on the football pitches, but sensibly closed my eyes and declared it all to be a bad dream. When I opened them a madman with a suitcase had scared them all away. Thank heavens for that, and I went and looked at some cardboard boxes instead to calm down.

All this week I've avoided looking but the constant reports have been nagging me because it is a year tick and if I see it I move one species closer to Bob and one step nearer to that coveted second place and a huge cash prize. There were two large Gulls on Alex when I got there, and handily the Caspian was one of them. I rather fancy that the other was a Yellow-legged Gull, but I don't want to get ahead of myself here as somebody will tell me it's just a Herring Gull. But that's the point really - they're all just flavours of Herring and I've been saying for ages that all Gulls should just be lumped. Gull. See, easy. Split into big and small if you're being really pedantic, but one supercline is where I think we're headed.

Now Caspian Gull is not a patch tick for me, I felt confident enough in one a few years ago to submit a description to the London rarities committee. When Bob first picked up the bird on Jubilee I was motivated to dust off the London Bird Report in question to remind myself of my previous triumph. Leafing through to the Gull section, I confidently read through the Caspo section looking for Wanstead and..... hang on a sec must have missed it. Essex. W....wait a damn minute! It's not there! This is the trouble with committees. Well, and with Gulls. Somehow my description must not have passed muster, absurd though that notion is. Gull. Big. White head. Dark eye. Long Beak. Long Legs. Sticky-out tummy. Wings. Faint aroma of rubbish. Accompanied by the photo I didn't take. Pah! This is why I hate Gulls, they're all basically identical and unless you're mentally unhinged and devote a significant portion of your life to them you don't stand a chance. 

Back to 2015 and admittedly this bird did look good, and I did have a camera this time so that particular demon can be laid to rest. The internet appears to agree that it is one, which is excellent news. Not because it is a rather good bird for here, or because it's a year tick, or even a real tick. But because it means I can stop looking at Gulls now and resume my search for birds that don't cause a gag reflex. 

1 comment:

  1. I can't agree more Jonathon. As a teenage birder in the eighties, rare gulls were Med, Iceland and Glaucous in that order. All of the rest were yellow legged Herring Gulls and I am afraid they always will be with me.