Who'd have thought that I would end up doing two blog entries so close together but Phil Barnett, the most dedicated of Oxon patch workers came up trumps yet again at Blenheim Palace (his new chosen patch) with a juvenile Sabine's Gull. He texted me the afternoon of the morning that I'd gone to Otmoor to see the great white egret. As I mentioned in my previous entry I am currently using a Streetcar Pay-as-you-go service until we get the new car and I'd manage to secure the last available car slot for the day for the Otmoor trip so I was stuck car-less as the news broke. I was thinking that I was going to have to let it go when I got a text from my fellow county year lister (JCo) saying that he was currently watching the bird from the main bridge at Blenheim. At this point I cracked and started looking up bus timetables. Fortunately there is a good service which goes from Oxford to Woodstock and which stops only a couple of minutes run from the front door so I gathered together my gear, told my VLW I was off again (she gave me a pitying look) and ran for the bus stop. Bus travelling has come on since my day and you can now text a number to see when the next one is due and I had one minute to spare. Some twenty minutes later I was in Woodstock and walking towards the main bridge. A minor hiccup in having to pay £10 to get into the grounds but there was no time for dallying here so I paid up and got to the bridge. The bird was with half a dozen black-headed gulls on the lake west of the bridge and once I'd seen it I could relax and take it in. This was in fact a life tick for me and although I was familiar with the plumage from the text books it was a different experience altogether to see it for real. In flight its wonderful wing pattern and delicate forked tail were a delight to behold. I spent about an hour and a half all told watching it and trying to digiscope it in poor light and a strong wind so the final results were strictly record shot quality videograbs only.
Videograb record shots of the juvenile Sabine's Gull at Blenheim Palace.
Another tick for both the county and national year lists. It's a real purple patch for Oxon birding at present with American Wigeon, Great White Egret and Sabine's Gull all present in the county on the same day. I may have been lucky with the egret because at the time of writing it hasn't been reported as having been seen again since about half an hour after I left Otmoor though the other two birds are currently still about.
Oxon Year List 2009
177 Sabine's Gull 15/09/2009 Blenheim Palace (County Lifer)
National Year List 2009
220 Sabine's Gull 15/09/2009 Blenheim Palace (Lifer)