WINTER SOLSTICE IVORY

Ivory Gull incoming!

THE BIGGEST INFLUX OF IVORY GULLS TO THE NORTH SEA IN MY LIFETIME included one at Patrington Haven, just upstream along the Humber shore from Spurn Point in East Yorkshire. Turned up by a local birder doing his WEBS count, it was first found feeding on dead fish by the pumping station. It is ironic that the huge recent winter storm surge, which brought it here, also provided some food for it in the form of freshwater fish killed by the inundation of the Winestead drain by seawater. Birders have since topped up this supply of course!

The Ivory Gull was present from first light but only visited the pumping station three more times over the course of the day and each time rather fleetingly. I love birding the Humber shore, with its big skies and the mighty river itself, six miles wide at this point. Mumurations of Red Knot swirled over the silver water, many hundreds of golden plovers passed overhead and the air was filled with the calls of curlews and geese, which included c.50 Dark-bellied Brent Geese in several small flocks. At one point three Peregrines drifted east together, towards Spurn followed soon afterwards by a Merlin, zipping across the saltmarsh. However, it was the rare high Arctic gull that lit up the shortest day of the year - it is nice to think that the evenings will be a little lighter starting tomorrow!

Ivory Gull, Patrington Haven

Brent Geese flying along the Humber shore at Spurn

Ivory Gull watchers at Patrington Haven