Saturday 16 March 2013

Kitti conundrum

Following on from last evening’s excitement, I returned to Stewartby Lake in the hope of getting further views of the first-summer Ring-billed Gull that Neil had found on Thursday 14th March. I determined I’d get there early as the weather was inclement and I hoped any goodies would arrive early to roost. So it was that I joined Tony Ploszajski at 4.45 at the usual gull watchpoint midway along the north-west bank. We were sheltering under brollies but the change in wind direction had brought the roost closer and all conveniently facing west broadside on. In fact the gulls came in later than yesterday and comprised just a few hundred birds split roughly equally between Common and Black-headed. Roy Dunham soon joined us and the last night’s hero, Neil Wright. Tony P had to go but Tony Revill and Phil Rhodes arrived. Of a sudden, Neil cried out that an adult Kittiwake had just flown in – and it had! We watched it for some time but then continued our scans for the RBG or a Med Gull as more and more gulls now poured in. A few minutes later I was scanning the flock and well over to the left, I ‘re-found’ the Kittiwake. Whilst trying to direct the others on to it, Tony Revill called that he was watching an adult Kittiwake in flight in the vicinity I was pointing to – he was and Tony and I kept on it through our ‘scopes as it circled and then headed right but we lost it in the melee. During these flight views, Neil called out that he’d still got a Kittiwake on the water over to the left where my bird had been. I then re-found presumably the flying bird on the water in the front centre of the roost, just as where the original bird had been. Paul Wright now arrived and we quickly directed him onto both birds. Regrettably, but unsurprisingly, the Ring-billed Gull didn’t make a second appearance and, as Lesser Black-backs had dropped from 135 down to 49, it is likely that the RBG was merely en route northward.

In terms of what counts on a Self-found Yearlist, the above is a conundrum…..

NW clearly self-found the first bird centrally in the flock when overall numbers were under a thousand. But, had I found the second bird and it was the first bird that had flown up for a fly round and landed again in much the same place as it took off from? Or, had I merely relocated the first bird over to the left and it was TR who found the second bird flying in to land centrally in the roost? Indeed it is unlikely, but not inconceivable, that there was the ‘central bird’, the ‘left bird’ and that the ‘flying bird’ simply flew through and headed west toward Brogborough. It is safest and most likely that just two adult Kittiwakes were present. It is also ‘almost’ certain that any one of us present would have found the first Kittiwake moments after NW called it as it was a very obvious bird toward the front centre of the flock – so on that basis alone is, I understand, an SFYT.


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