Caspian Gull, Ainsdale Beach: Just another tourist




With nine days of festival-mania finally concluded yesterday, I was fancying a lie-in today, but as it was I popped down to Ainsdale beach with Ralph Jones at 7am to see if we could find the long staying 2cy (look! grown-up talk!) Caspian Gull.
The tide was just about at its lowest point, and the water was probably nearer Dublin than Ainsdale, so predictably we failed to locate Mr Bignose as the gulls were scattered all along the coast.
Plenty of Gannets offshore though, and good numbers of Barwits still in full summer plumage.
I returned home for a pleasant nap, before heading back to the beach at about noon as the tide began to push in, when the place was swarming with tourists, dog walkers, swimmers, horse-riders etc etc, most of whom seemed dedicated to freaking out roosting gulls, waders and terns.
Bumped into Pete Kinsella who found this gull about five weeks back (well done Pete), and after half an hour or so he picked the Caspian up flying down onto the beach from Pontins, where the bird occasionally perches on the roof of the swimming pool with other gulls.
Huge, with really white underwings and some serious moult issues, it cruised up and down the beach looking for scraps to scavenge before pitching down with the rest of the tourists.


Its bill went on forever, a real bruiser of a bird, with long gangly legs, a nice streaky shawl and all the other terms birders use when describing this species – long primaries, sloping back, full nappy, beady dark eye, snow white head etc.
Has to be said, although pretty moulty, this Caspian Gull still looks fairly cool.
Like a lot of visitors to Ainsdale beach in summer it was startlingly white (get some sun block on), and when the heat, sand and sea got too much it went back to Pontins to take refuge.
Once or twice it started displaying like some demented albatross, throwing its head back and calling away before taking flight to survey the beach for food.
Not shy, at one point it saw off four LBBs in a dispute over some dodgy tideline morsel.