Yes folks, North Downs and beyond becomes a tad grumpy on the ludicrously early date of January 7th.
Today began quite well, as I arrived at Beddington Sewage Farm at first light to be greeted by roost-fleeing flocks of Jackdaws, some of them hundreds strong, at rooftop height. The tip and lake had already attracted several thousand gulls. Yesterday no less than three Iceland Gulls were present here (including a Kumlien's) so I thought that it wasn't asking much to be granted views of at least one of them - preferably the more exotic of them. For the first three hours of daylight, scouring the lake-loafing gulls had produced nothing.
I have a reputation at the sewage farm for dipping on birds when I leave the watchpoint to cover other areas of the farm. It is a daft thing to do, as observers are concentrated at the lake and many pairs of eyes make light work of what flies through. Some of the regulars never leave the spot for fear of dipping. In the past year my list of 'birds missed because I abandoned the watchpoint and went 'walkabout' includes Waxwing, Bearded Tit, White-fronted Goose and Bar-tailed Godwit. Today I can add Kumlien's Gull...
Whilst wandering, I went up to the landfill site fence and took this picture of the gulls pestering the refuse vehicles. Now, I don't want to appear stringy, but I reckon that the 234th bird in from the left, partially hidden by the smudgy looking white thing that might be a Herring Gull (or even three Black-headed Gulls blended together) looks a good candidate for the Kumlien's. It was, after all, seen by a few other birders soon afterwards.
Is it too early in the year to start with the dodgy identifications?