Little Means A Lot

I had been able to do a bit of birding today and seen some things to enjoy. A couple of Ravens cronked as they headed south over Fleetwood Promenade whilst I took part in the parkrun. A Cetti’s Warbler sang at Fleetwood Nature Park. Whilst Jane visited a shop on Poulton Industrial Estate I scanned the gulls on nearby floods and picked an adult or possibly near adult Mediterranean Gull out that was rather smarter than the distant picture below suggests.

But they always say ‘bird the weather’, so when Jane gave me a birding pass mid afternoon the raging hooley pointed towards seawatching being the best option. So I nipped round to North Shore for an hour or so with the hope of something other than the usual recent fare of Common Scoter and Cormorants. Don’t get me wrong both these black birds are always welcome, but I hoped the fresh winds would freshen things up a bit.

There have been lots of Kittiwakes driven ashore in recent days in Lancashire, particularly at Heysham where over 100 followed the ferry in today. It wasn’t a huge surprise to see an adult battling south over the surf, and it was followed by another couple. The first Gannet of the year on the Fylde were also very welcome, both adults heading south in quick succession.

What I was particularly hoping for was a Little Gull. Back in the day they wintered in numbers in Liverpool Bay, and conditions like today would see possibly even three figures passing off the Fylde coast. But the decline has been severe and now they are very scarce. The same conditions that have yielded loads of ‘Kitts’ so far had produced only two Little Gulls at Heysham and one at Knott End.

Adult winter Little Gull from Wikipedia Commons licensed by Jonn Leffmann

Just before I was going to retreat to the warmth of home I was delighted to pick up two adult Little Gulls fluttering, yes, south. Even without their summer black hoods they are delightful looking birds with their lead grey underwings. As a Great Black-Backed Gull had also been around earlier I had the privilege of seeing the world’s largest and smallest gulls from Blackpool Promenade. That’s got to be a good use of an hour of any weekend.

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