Thursday, 19 September 2013

THE GOOD OLD DAYS: Criccieth Beach, Caernarfonshire. 12th February, 2002.

Reports of an adult Ivory Gull feeding on a dead Harbour Porpoise on the beach at Criccieth from the 9th February, 2002, was just too tempting for John King and myself not to twitch especially as the weather forecast was good. We departed early morning on the 12th from Burgess Hill and after a good drive seeing two Goosanders on a river en-route, we arrived at Criccieth beach car park around 9.00 am.

As we were arriving in the car park, we met Richard Millington and several other birders who were just leaving and they soon pointed us in the right direction where to go along the beach. To our surprise all the birders had now left and after a 10 minute walk we located the adult Ivory Gull at the dead porpoise, and had this all to ourselves. Being a bird of the Arctic it took no notice of us at all.

This Ivory Gull was found by an E.Lewis and was present from the 9th February, 2002 to 28th February, 2002, although it also visited nearby beaches at Porthmadoc and Morfa Harlech. Up to the end of 2002 there have been a total of 121 accepted records in the UK although 76 of these were prior to 1958. In Europe, it only breeds in Svalbard and elsewhere it is restricted to islands in the high Arctic extending to Arctic Canada and also to N and SE Greenland. Its wintering range is poorly known although generally close to the edge of the pack ice.

We spent a very enjoyable and memorable 2 hours in fine weather watching and photographing this fine bird, and we also saw a 1stW. Glaucous Gull, a juvenile Little Gull and a Merlin. On the drive home we briefly stopped off by a fast flowing river and a Dipper flew past us.

Although I had previously seen a juvenile Ivory Gull near Portland Bill a few years earlier, to see an adult Ivory Gull was always an ambition and I was not disappointed.


Adult Ivory Gull on Criccieth Beach.