Blashford Lakes and a quest for an American gull…

Until this week I had been to Blashford Lakes only twice, which is a shame as it’s a lovely reserve. The first time was in late January after my semester 1 exams and I made the mistake of visiting without a scope. On the plus side, I still had fantastic views of a bittern that day which showed extremely well, and also many passerines from the ‘Woodland hide’. My second visit, in early May, was much more brief but gave me a change to see Blashford in Spring.

I returned on Saturday after managing to arrange a lift with Fred Griffin. We were hoping to see a Franklin’s gull that had been coming to roost with the black-headed gulls in Ibsley Lake, but I was also pleased to be back at Blashford. The hide was full of people, which was hardly surprising given how rare the gull is, and it was nice to bump into fellow NGBers and other local birders too, as well as many not so local birders!

One of the first birds pointed out was a black-necked grebe,  a species that winters at Blashford, and a lifer for me. Then the great white egret kindly flew over and landed on a spit by some greylag geese.  Excellent, I’d been hoping to see it at some point! The egret didn’t stay long so our attention turned to the roosting gulls.

Blashford Lake's great white egret. 2nd November 2014

Blashford Lake’s great white egret. 2nd November 2014

Among the large numbers of black-headed, herring and lesser black-backed gulls, were several great black-backed gulls and also a number of yellow-legged gulls. The Franklin’s Gull did come to roost, but myself and several other birders missed it because of where we were standing and where the gull was. It also quickly disappeared from view.

Thankfully, Olly Frampton, Rob Sawyer and Martin Shave were going back on Wednesday afternoon so I was able to join them for another attempt. It was much more successful, in terms of gulls anyway! As we arrived people were leaving the bird hide rather quickly so we enquired and discovered the gull had been spotted but they were heading to the mound behind the hide for a better view. We followed, and sure enough the Franklin’s gull was showing extremely well. Second time lucky, eh?

Franklin's gull - smilar size to the black-headed gulls, partially black head and dark mantle, like a lesser black-backed gull. 5th November 2014

Franklin’s gull – similar size to the black-headed gulls, partially black head and dark mantle, like a lesser black-backed gull. 5th November 2014

Spot the Franklin's! Gull roost at Blashford Lakes

Spot the Franklin’s! Gull roost at Blashford Lakes

Though I see from “goingbirding” that the gull was showing even better after we left. Typical, not that I can complain with the good views I had!

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