|Chalk and cheese: a second-winter Kumlien's Gull mixes it with three first-winter Azores Gulls on Terceira.|
The second leg of this trip takes place on Terceira, where I arrived yesterday afternoon. Despite the fierce winds and overcast conditions things got off to a good start, with Semipalmated Plover and Semipalmated Sandpiper at Cabo da Praia and a (or should that be 'the'?) Hudsonian Whimbrel in with a Eurasian Whimbrel flock which landed on rocks while I was gulling nearby. And have I been gulling ...
|The streaked hood, often most obvious on second-winter birds, gives Azores Gull an appearance of its own.|
|This first-winter Mediterranean Gull is a long way from home - next stop America?|
|This flock of Black-headed Gulls merits closer scrutiny - can you spot anything different?|
Today, gulls were my prime objective. So after checking the wetland in town and scoring with Wood Duck (I assumed this bird had left as it wasn't visible yesterday), I did my rounds of the island, taking in a fish quay, tidal quarry, farmland, rubbish tip, reservoir and finally beach. The end result was no fewer than 10 gull species, at least three of them originating from North America - for gull watchers, it doesn't often get much better than that. The breakdown is as follows:
|Whether it's European or American, this Herring Gull is a rarity on the Azores. The ID is a work in progress.|
- Mediterranean Gull - first-winter.
- Ring-billed Gull - 12 (four adults, three second-winters and five first-winters).
- Common Gull - adult.
- Black-headed Gull - c 40 in one flock.
- Bonaparte's Gull - one with the Black-headeds.
- European or American Herring Gull - adult in flight only (working to try and resolve this ID, but it's tricky).
- Lesser Black-backed Gull - 10+ around the island.
- Great Black-backed Gull - seven in total.
- Azores Gull - 2,000-3,000 of the endemic atlantis form of Yellow-legged Gull.
- Kumlien's Gull - second-winter seen at two sites this afternoon.
|Adult (left) and first-winter Ring-billed Gulls on the beach this evening - two of the 12 present by dusk.|
|The head says adult, but the spread wings and tail reveal the tell-tale darker markings of second-winter plumage.|
|A first-winter Ring-billed Gull forages on the tideline before going to roost.|
|With just 41 records in the Azores until the end of last year, this adult Common Gull (left) is a far greater rarity locally than the second-winter Ring-billed Gull which is keeping it company.|
I think it will be difficult for me to surpass that gull species total anywhere else in the Western Palearctic, at least any time soon, and the quality of rarer species - and in the case of Ring-billed also the quantity - makes it a stand-out day that I won't forget for some time. In the meantime, time for some shut-eye ...
|And though gulls were today's big prize, there were others - not least this smart drake Wood Duck.|