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Iceland Gull, Cheddar

Now Somerset is my top British county with my first ever English occurrence of this white gull. Five years have elapsed since my last sighting at Fraserburgh; only Forfar and Ullapool have also contributed records. In with a distant roost of herring and lesser black-backs and the light fading fast, the Cheddar bird was nevertheless easy to pick out in its paleness.

Earlier the same day another bout of three new species at Chew Valley took that site racing past Upton Warren. I caught up with the long-tailed duck and the flock of yellowhammers while a mistle thrush sang in the distance for a surprising addition to the list.

Another theme recently has been early birds and yesterday was no exception, apart from being exceptional. Two Sandwich terns off Widewater Lagoon at Shoreham beat my 2006 record by 25 days! True, most of my sightings have been in Scotland but this does continue a trend of migrants weeks ahead of time. The weather has certainly been crazy enough this year to encourage them. Am I alone in thinking the last few weeks have been unnatural?

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