Look to the skies, because you’re worth it.

For anyone who worries about fuscus intergrades and age-related moult patterns stop reading here.  Sorry this one is not for you, step away from your computer ‘there’s nothing to see here’.

However, for the rest of you there is something special happening in the sky above NZ26.  No not the eclipse, but Lesser Black-backed Gulls are back in a big way. My first ones of the year in NZ26 were at the start of the month on Watergate Park lake a large male still with the grey winter feathers on his head and a smaller stunning female.  She left him a few days later; he was punching above his weight.

A few weeks on from his encounter they are truly back in force and dominating the sky both sides of the river.  In my push to get as many species per tetrad across the square this is proving to be the easiest new bird even being added when I have been stuck at lights in the centre of Gateshead.  12 down 13 more to go for this to become the 7th species to be seen in all the tetrads.

There are some random YouTube clips of these gulls soaring, but they do not do justice to the elegance of what you can see in real life.  Unlike the more broad winged Herring Gulls which appear as mere amateurs these birds have full command of the sky. Whilst this can be seen anywhere at present I recommend parking between the Sage and the Baltic.  You will get the soundscape of the Kittiwakes and you can compare Herring Gulls and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and decide for yourself who is top dog.

I must look up how many nest across the city, but there barking ‘help‘ call is distinctive as they establish territories.  Alternatively you can save this treat for later in the year when they have young.  Last summer I was too early to collect from the Central Station so went and parked just north of the Metro Arena.  A huge pile of rubbish including food waste had built up as though we were in Naples and I was initially entertained by the rats as they ran across the carpark.  This gave them 20 -30 metres to carry their find back to their hole.  This in turn attracted Lesser Black-backs who tried, but failed to catch a rat in an Attenbroughesque moment.


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