Monday, 2 July 2012

Startop's Sabine's

News filtered out today of a 1st-summer Sabine's Gull at Startop's End Reservoir, one of the water bodies near Tring. Naturally, being a lover of this pelagic species and the opportunity to see one up close, I was on it like a fly on shit. Setting off from southeast London early evening, the rush hour was kind to me and I arrived on site shortly before 7.30pm.
1st-summer Sabine's Gull - note the black bill (with a tiny bit of yellow noticeable on the upper mandible at close range), partial hood and dark nape and smallish white primary tips compared to an adult
In rather overcast conditions, it was initially looking pretty average perched mid reservoir before flying closer. It had been doing this for most of the afternoon apparently, but armed with my trusty bread (I always have a loaf of pikey bread in the car as you never know when your next set of gulls need feeding), it really did get amongst it...

I must admit, I couldn't remember precisely the last Sabine's Gull I'd seen inland - as it transpires, a quick thumb through the notes reveals I saw a couple back in 2005, an adult at Grafham and a juvenile at Chew but neither of these were close. So tonight's experience was the first time I've been able to see this species up close and personal. Impressive in a very different way to the hordes I've seen over the years on seawatches on the Irish west coast.

I left the site at 8.50pm, with the bird roosting on one of the artificial islands. Enjoyed the bird in good company, with Paul H and Jake E.


  1. Nice pics rich, hopefuly we will pick one up on the patch, i've not had one on the thames since the Hurricane of "87, so well due.!!

  2. Cheers Paul - seems like there has been a few bits the last few days so may start putting some more effort in at Crossness this weekend. Seems like a Spoonbill overflew our patches today when we weren't there.