Sunday, 4 November 2018

Bonaparte's Gull & Cattle Egret

As Pete Howe reports, a great find by him at the Gann this afternoon.  I was at the Deer Park, watching Richard & Giselle watching the Pallid Swift on Skokholm, hoping that it might do a little sortie in my direction - it didn't!  My phone rang, and it was Pete explaining he was 90% sure he had a Bonaparte's Gull on the lagoon at Dale.  We went through the features, and it sounded really good.  He joined me at the Deer Park, by which time his confidence level had increased to 95%, and then he showed my his 'phone 'scoped images & video, and 95% became 100%!

No luck with the swift, so I decided to head down to the Gann, where I found Derek & Brian looking unsuccessfully for the Bonaparte's.  Some Black-headed & Mediterranean Gulls were feeding on the shoreline right below us, but no luck.  Then about 4.20pm I picked the bird up in a small roost forming maybe 150m offshore.  Too far for any decent photographs, but my poor efforts show some of the key features - smaller size, darker, dark bill & grey shawl along the neck sides.  I was also able to see the pale under primaries whilst it preened, and when the whole flock flew further out to sea the more buoyant flight with faster wingbeats were quite obvious.  This is only Pembrokeshire's 4th Bonaparte's, after birds at Solva in Spring 1888, and Strumble Head on 28th September 1997 and 16th-20th October 2012.  Be nice if it stays around.

Derek disappeared to get the dogs, and whilst he was gone Brian & I picked up a Cattle Egret which flew fairly low over the lagoon, and headed south-west over the ridge and out of site, appearing to drop down into the valley at Dale.  To wrap things up, the 4 adult Whooper Swans flew in to the Gann as we left.  Magic!