Wednesday 8 July 2020

Mediterranean Gull Influx

I spent a bit of time watching the sea this afternoon which produced some very good numbers of Mediterranean Gulls with at least 40+ birds seen in 30 minutes. Many of the birds were lingering and some flocks were moving west. I then checked the Otter Estuary to find another 36 birds in one flock which later increased to over 50 birds! This is the largest number I have ever seen on the patch and I must have seen a minimum of 100 different birds this afternoon. Most were adults, with 2-3 birds of each other age group including a couple of pristine juveniles. They have to be one of the best looking Gulls and great to hear them calling too!

There definitely seems to be a lot of food available close inshore and it seems to be keeping large numbers of gull feeding flocks in the bay, as well as the recent push of Balearic Shearwaters into Lyme Bay. I saw 16 birds on the 4th July but far bigger counts were seen elsewhere. I suspect this food and associated bird activity was also the reason I saw a small whale species (probably Minke) off the seafront on the 6th July!! The animal surfaced just once in my scope in very calm sea conditions, but despite another hour scanning I did not see it again and it seemed to be travelling west. This was my first whale sighting off Budleigh Salterton and my 4th cetacean species for the area, the others being Common Dolphin, Bottlenose Dolphin and Harbour Porpoise.

med gul
Adult Mediterranean Gull, Otter Estuary

Adult Mediterranean and Black-headed Gulls, Otter Estuary

Just part of the flock that reached over 50 birds!
One of the smaller flocks travelling west along the coast

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