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Saturday, 11 January 2014

Enormous gull gathering at Inch

Since the recent storms and the resultant massive swells, gulls have been gathering in ever-larger numbers along the coastal cliffs at Inch. Some 4000 were present today. Whatever the food source, there seems to be plenty of it, as hundreds of gulls wheel over certain parts of the shoreline and pluck what looks to be small brown fish, or eels from just under the surface.

Today the gull flock stretched from the NW corner of Inch beach, W along the cliffs, for about two kilometres. In total, approximately 3000 Herring Gulls were present – one of the largest ever gatherings of this species in Kerry – with another 400 or so Greater Black-backed, and several hundred more of a combination of Common, Lesser Black-backeds and Black-headed Gulls, and even a sprinkling of Kittiwakes. Among the throngs the following were also noted...

Adult Kumlien's Gull, Inch, 11th January 2014 (All photos: Michael O'Clery).

 Adult Kumlien's Gull, Inch, 11th January 2014 (Same individual as above).
This bird shows only two dark but distinct black lines on the outermost primaries and would be at the very palest of the range of Kumlien's Gull, as opposed to Iceland Gull. A similar Kumlien's Gull was seen in 2012 at Reenard (see that post HERE).

First-winter Kumlien's Gull, Inch, 11th January 2014. 
This is the same individual as was seen recently at Reenroe and Anascaul (see this post HERE).

Adult Glaucous Gull, Inch, 11 January 2014.

Adult Glaucous Gull, Inch, 11 January 2014.

Feeding frenzy – whatever the food source, the gulls were feeding voraciously along the tideline, amongst huge drifts of seaweed just under the surface. Here, a first-winter Glaucous Gull gets its share.

In total, 7 Glaucous Gulls were present (3 adults, a second winter and 3 first-winters) as well as 3 Iceland Gulls (a first-winter and 2 adults).