I’ve been struggling for a post topic this month. Don’t get me wrong there is lots going on everywhere I look and there have been all sorts of ideas jumping in and out of my head as I’ve gone about my business but none of them have grabbed me enough to turn them into a full post.  I feel like I need some kind of de-cluttering of the mind to create a little thinking space.  As a result I’ve decided to use the freedom granted by the blog owners to have a short brainstorming session and explore some of the post possibilities that have been swilling around in recent days.

Perhaps the biggest event of this winter has been the late winter occurrence of hundreds of ‘white-winged gulls’ from Shetland to Dover and seemingly at all points in between we, in Britain & Ireland, have been inundated with Iceland Gulls and Glaucous Gulls in recent weeks. One of the most unusual factors has been the high number of 3rd calendar year (or 2nd-winter) individuals, an age group that is normally the scarcest.

Iceland Gull

With them they have brought an exceptional number of individuals that have been identified as Kumlien’s Gull. You’ll all be familiar with Kumlien’s after the recent post here on 10,000 Birds. We’ve been having, let’s say some fun, sorting out what constitutes Kumlien’s and what doesn’t when it comes to field marks and as a result there has been some interesting contributions to the debate in various corners of the internet such as here and here.  All of that is without even going near the couple of 1st-winter Thayer’s Gull candidates that have been kicking around getting larophiles over-excited.

I took a flight to Northern Ireland at the end of January to catch up with some of this influx with the bonus of an adult Ross’s Gull that had the good grace to hang around Ardglass Harbour in Co Down for several days. However my ‘twitch’ pales in comparison with the big twitch undergone by a couple of Brit birders in recent days who headed out to Japan on a 5814 mile twitch (and that was just to get there!) for a drake Baer’s Pochard. So mad it has spawned it’s own thread on Birdforum that predictably has descended into the chaos of carbon footprints. Baer’s Pochard is an endangered species that has undergone a rapid acceleration in its decline over the last decade, with a total world population of less than 5000 individuals remaining. How far would you go for an Aythya?

Baer’s Pochard – courtesy Ken San (via Flickr Creative Commons)

Then I read a piece in the one of the British newspapers about the ‘five biggest regrets of the dying’, happy subject I know but bear with me.  I began to daydream about what the ‘five biggest regrets of birders would be’. Would it be about the birds they didn’t twitch, the trips they didn’t make? Would it be not starting earlier? Might not doing enough to give back in the way of conservation creep in there or perhaps not creating the right environment to inspire and enthuse their kids to follow them? Now maybe some of these suggestions just subconsciously highlight some of my own current ‘regrets’ though I’m hoping I still have a little time left to shorten the list, how about you?

Then this week my review copy of the new photographic guide to Petrels, Albatrosses and Storm-Petrels of North America dropped through the door and I started dipping in. As someone who spends a fair few hours practicing land-based sea-watching and has made the odd foray into the oceans in search of some of these fantastic species I couldn’t wait to dip in. Once dipped I became immersed and suddenly I wanted to write a review but I’d run out of time for my post, I couldn’t do it justice. This is not a review or a book to rush, some of the learning contained within the introductory chapters is amazing from tubenose topograhy on a Tolkien scale to fantastic and accurate insights on the impact of light, wind and sea conditions on the observer’s perception. I quickly realised that I’m not the only appreciative voice.

So, I’ve ended up doing none of the above and rambled my way through another post, maybe next month I’ll really find my mojo and write something good. Till then good birding.



Written by Alan
With a high flying career in business management Alan Tilmouth was once described as an irruptive birder. With the arrival of twins to add to his existing two kids in 2007 he grabbed the opportunity to bring some life changes. Business sold, he is now a full-time dad, birder, and blogger. Alan lives in Northumberland England's most northerly county, works part-time as part of the birdguides news team, tinkers with freelance writing and tries to figure out how his DSLR works. You can read his blog here.