Little Gull, Chew Valley

Little Gull

From the Stratford Hide this dainty bird was barely distinguishable from a tern but later at Moreton it danced close enough to show its striking wing patterns. Even at a great distance though the creature’s tail band was enough to mark it as a gull so I was already happy with my first sighting of the species since 2007.

The gull rather overshadowed three little stints and it’s not often you can say that. Never in my case, having only ever seen singles. A semipalmated sandpiper had been reported among this trio but not while I was watching. Nor the long staying pectoral sandpiper, which had eluded me a week ago because of the injured black-headed gull.

So, on Monday morning I was packing the bins for my visit to Chew when I spied a linnet on a roof opposite the Phoenix Way gaff. A linnet alone? I got on it and, my God, it was streaky. Had it been on a Scottish saltmarsh, it would have been all twite – no question. With its back to me, the bird occasionally turned and I swear I was also looking at a small yellow bill. Twite again. This could not be. The species doesn’t occur in Somerset – nowhere near in fact. I couldn’t discern a pink rump but that’s not always obvious.

The bird flew and left me with an enigma. Twite or no twite? On a modern housing estate rooftop? It just didn’t add up. The bird certainly wasn’t a linnet and I may have to compromise and call it a redpoll. At least that’s possible although it had no black facial markings nor red crown, the latter not always showing well.

Eeeh, I don’t know.

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