Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Iceland gull

Last week an Iceland gull showed up in Cork city. It stayed for about 3-4 days and gave plenty of opportunities for photos. So many in fact that it took several days to sort out all the shots. I am quite pleased with the results though. This bird provided a bit of a challenge as sunshine and white feathers overexposed a lot of my shots but I nonetheless got plenty of shots with the (almost) correct balance.

Down near lower Glanmire

Showing off its mid air moves

Gliding around in the sunshine

Checking out my new tripod

Off to chase a black headed gull

Early morning swim

Another one at the quays

Gotta love the big eye and the 'dove' like features

Curious gull

About to take off


Floating again

Close crop

One last flight shot

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Little gull / Dwergmeeuw

Little gull
Larus/ Hydrocoloeus minutus

Thought I would try to find a little gull that showed up in Cobh last month. As per usual I had never seen this species and had been hoping to run into one at some point. I sound like a broken record when I say it but I wish the weather had been a little better. The day was bitterly cold with high winds and grey sky, enough to push my ISO through the roof and have my shutter speed down to 1/200 or lower. Couple this with the fact that the little gull is in fact the world’s smallest gull (same wingspan as a pigeon) and you get a picture of my cameras uphill battle with this species!
The best picture I got I think

Aside from these photographic misfortunes it was fantastic to finally see one of these little birds. Truth be told I had always been nervous that I would miss a 1st-winter little gull because it looks so similar in the book to a kittiwake that I never paid much attention to the adults wing pattern. Turns out the adult wing are actually quite distinctive to the eye and I am now fairly confident that I can pick an adult LG out of a crowd. Much like I was once afraid that I would miss a med gull for a black headed gull, actually seeing the bird has shown that they are quite different looking. This species comes from considerably colder parts of the world then Ireland (Distribution map), which explains why it’s willing to put up with the Irish weather! Hopefully next year a lot more gulls will show up and I will get a second chance to photograph this species.

Doing a flyby

That ornamental white line along the wing is quite distinctive

A slight touch of pink, apparently quite common with this species

Found something!

Yes its that small! ok I will admit the bigger gulls are closer to the camera

Probrably a better size comparison with black headed gull in foreground

Dancing on the waves

Also that day, I was directed to the pilot chamber black redstart, not so easy to photograph! and an apparent continental ‘Sinensis’ cormorant. A subspecies of great cormorant that sometimes showed up in Ireland. Whilst I would never have picked this bird out of a crowd myself it did inspire me to some research. I at least now know what to look for.
Spot the tiny bird

Sinensis cormorant (I think)