Thursday 19 January 2023

Sabs Revisited 19th January 2023

Today I returned, in the company of Peter a fellow Oxonbirder, to Havant and the Sabine's Gull. The day was a classic mid winter combination of crisp cold air and a bright sun shining from the outset with not a breath of wind to stir the still blue waters of Langstone Harbour. Such a contrast to Sunday when there was a strong and troublesome wind.

I had also arranged to meet two other birding colleagues, Mark and Les here. There had been no news on whether the gull was present as myself and Peter drove south from Oxfordshire and we were still none the wiser on getting to the small car park by the seawall at Langstone Harbour. However the number of birders milling around told us that surely the gull was still here and immediately on getting out of the car the Sabine's Gull conveniently flew past us and along the seawall before settling on a pebble beach virtually below us.

I rang Mark and Les who were half an hour behind us, somewhere in the clutches of the M27 motorway,  to inform them the gull was still here, so they could at least relax in that knowledge as they headed our way. 

A female stonechat perched on a post just in from the seawall, her plumage turned to ginger in the strong sunlight while a Little Egret was a shock of white as it waded in the blue waters of the marshland beyond.

The Sabine's Gull flew from the beach and we followed it southwards along the seawall to the area of saltmarsh and lagoons that it most favoured. Mid morning and the tide was full but on the ebb. Far out  on the shining waters of the harbour were four Black necked Grebes, a Great Northern Diver and a diving Long tailed Duck. On the receding tideline Grey Plovers and Curlews called evocatively, their melancholic voices ringing out in the still air, a vocal prompt of the wilder summer homes they will seek when winter departs. Smaller waders were on the move too, stirring as the shore became exposed. Turnstones and Dunlins mainly, flying at speed in tight groups across the silver waters with no time to lose in these short hours of feeding opportunity.

The Sabs meanwhile, regularly flew back and fore along the seawall, dipping down to the sea to snatch a morsel, sometimes passing over the heads of unsuspecting arriving birders on the seawall, while we positioned ourselves by the saltmarsh to wait, as we knew for certain it would return here.

There is little more to say except that we sat or stood in the sun  for the next four hours watching the gull on the shingle before us or intermittently flying around, charming us with its beauty and charismatic presence

Here are some more images that I took today of the Sabine's Gull. 


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