I went over to Caleta de Velez hoping to see the reported Icelandic Gull which had been seen regularly around the fishing harbour for a few weeks now. I wondered if I would recognize it amongst all the other gulls which include Black-headed, Yellow-legged, Lesser Black-backed, Mediterranean, and a few Audouins. In the event I needn't have worried, it was quite different in appearance from any of them and easy to spot as it sat on the beach amongst a group of mainly Yellow-legged Gulls.
I had to photograph it through a heavy steel wire fence which obscured some of the light coming into the lens, but the results are ok as record shots of a very unusual visitor to the shores of Andalucia. This bird breeds in the Arctic regions of Canada and Greenland and normally only Winters in the North Atlantic, sometimes as far south as the shores of Britain and N E United States, so it is a very unexpected visitor here, one worth recording.
It differs quite substantially in appearance from the other Gulls around, very pale plumage with white wings & no black anywhere except on the tip of the bill. The bill is small and narrow giving the bird a slightly dove-like appearance. As gulls go it is quite attractive.
I imagine the exceptionally cold winter this year has something to do with its presence in Andalucia. We have experienced some extremely cold winds from the North all across Europe and the Atlantic, so it is likely to be the reason for this very unusual but welcome visitor.I wonder how long it will remain but think it might get a bit too warm for it quite soon. Personally, I hope so.
Retired seafarer living in Frigiliana, a white village in Malaga Province in southern Spain. Married to Elena. Keen bird and wildlife watchers.
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