New Year in Burneside and an unexpected twitch

It was a traditional New Year at our friends place in Burneside above Kendal. We awoke to a deep frost covering everything. The usual birds were on the garden feeders including the regular wintering Yellowhammers (not very common in these parts) and a surprise of two Tree Sparrows in amongst the few House Sparrows.
Later that day came news of a potential Glaucous-winged Gull (a western Canadian gull) in Clevelend - within striking distance if it was confirmed.
The 2nd saw me chekc ing the river down by the Dunkenhalgh where I found the ususal Dipper but no Kingfishers. A lone treecreeper went from tree to tree and a male Sparrowhawk's presence was indicated by the alrm calls of Blue Tits high in the beech trees.
I was on my way to Whinney Hill when Bill texted me about the GWG - it was there - and so we hastily arranged a twitch together with John Wright and Mark Breaks.
The car's panoramic sunroof came in to play when a Red Kite soared over the A59 near Blubberhouses (I've seen some good birds through there!). We arrived at Cowpen just before 1 and found a small crowd of birders overlooking the gulls roosting in the lee of the tip.
There were plenty to search through and John picked up a Juv Glaucous that obligingly came in to bathe and loaf about in full view. there were between six and ten thousand gulls milling around but after the second set of bird-scaring charges being set off, a lot of gulls came off the tip towards where we were standing. Mark then picked out the GWG which proceeded to land in front of the pack. The gulls were very flighty but every time they went up, it stayed put with a couple of Greater Black-backs. I didn't get any images but the bird was quite distictive with bulky body and relatively small head and a beady dark eye with a curved line behind it. The smudgy shawl was also quite a good feature. The legs were a rich pink colour and not the washed out pink of a Herring Gull. It's name suggests pale wings but they were the same colour as the Herring Gulls but with grey on the primaries rather than black. A smart bird indeed - and thanks for the images, Bill!


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