I didn’t want to do an “it’s snowing!” post, as I’m sure everyone’s noticed… however the cold snap has meant some good urban birding opportunities this last week. Winter thrushes seem to be everywhere at the moment, for example, everywhere you look there seems to be a few redwing and fieldfare around, either munching berries or “tseeeping” or chuckling overhead. Today I had a look round Sheffield Centre for the peregrines that keep being reported (no sign, but it’s my mission to see one before the month’s out…), and found a nice flock of redwings, with a few fieldfares mixed in, on Carver Street.
The cold weather’s also meant a large gathering of gulls has appeared on the tin roofs opposite Mecca Bingo on Penistone Road. The river is probably the only unfrozen piece of water, so it’s probably no surprise it’s attracting more birds than usual.
I first went down yesterday due to reports of an adult yellow-legged gull there, which would have been a nice addition to the yearlist! However I couldn’t find it, among the hundreds of black-headed gulls, and smaller numbers of common gull, herring gull, lesser black-backed gull and great black-backed gull.
This blog may sometimes give a false impression I know what I’m talking about, but gulls really make me realise I don’t! I saw the fella below (on the right), with a clean head that made me initially think 1st winter YLG. However its size was obviously deceptive, as the good people of Birdforum let me know I actually had a 1st winter GBBG. Ooops!
The gull in the middle of the shot here also made be wonder about YLG, due to its very clean head making it stand out among the herrings. However one thing was missing, and that was yellow-legs! Also the “mirrors” on the wings are large, pointing well towards its true identity of herring gull, albeit one with a whiter head than you’d expect at this time of year.
So no rare gulls, but a very educational squint at the more common species, and an added bonus was a female goosander bobbing past on the river, which is a very nice lunchtime tick indeed.