25 Mar 2013

Little Gull Feeding on Sand Eels

Little Gull at Killard

Today was one of those days that I think embody the reasons why I love birding. It is the surprise when you see something new or an interaction that you haven't seen before. This morning I went out to my favourite spot Killard Nature Reserve. There was a strong easterly wind and it was absolutely baltic. I didn't have high expectations as to what I would see, maybe an early Wheatear or possibly a Short -eared Owl at most.

There were a few Bar-tailed Godwits on the shore one of which was being constantly pushed away by the others.
Bar-tailed Godwits

I saw a couple of Stonechats on the gorse bushes and a Little Egret feeding on the shoreline. I walked over the hill and down to the main beach and saw the NIEA(Northern Ireland Environment Agency) Warden driving towards the beach. It was the first time I have ever seen a vehicle out here.
NIEA Warden

I popped down and had a chat with him picking up some of the rubbish that had been blown above the beach for him to remove. Hopefully we are going to organise a beach clean in the not too distant future as it is getting fairly bad.

He left and I walked along the beach and was going to head back to the car when I spotted a Razorbill fairly close to the shore.  I thought if I approached it every time it dived I might be able to get quite close. As I was approaching I noticed every time it dived a small gull was lifting off the water and seemed to follow it. As I got closer I saw that it was a Little Gull. (A new Killard patch tick for me)
Little Gull and Razorbill

I then spent the next hour watching them together. As soon as the Razorbill surfaced the Little Gull would land on the water beside it and the moment it dived the Little Gull would be airborne. They covered the whole length of the beach and back again in the time I watched them.
Little Gull and Razorbill

Much to my amazement the Little Gull was feeding on sand eels that the Razorbill was disturbing as it dived. This new symbiotic observation to me is one of the reasons why I love birding.
Little Gull with Sand Eel


Andrew said...

Yes, this is what birding should be about and what makes it so rewarding. Overseas trips are great but something like this on the local patch warms the cockles of the true birder's heart.

Vineeta Yashswi said...