Ross's Gull (Rhodostethia rosea)
While the news over the weekend was of the storms battering our west coast it also emerged that they had also brought with them a Ross's Gull to Nimmo's Pier in Galway, where I had first seen one in 2000. It's named after the 19th century Arctic explore James Clark Ross and is normally a gull that spends its Summers in the High Arctic and usually only winters at the edge of the pack ice - still a long ways north of here. It enjoys a certain cachet because of this lifestyle and is generally only seen on TV documentaries, where it it is often seen lingering at the edge of Polar Bear kills on some ice floe as it waits for second helpings. In addition to this general un-attainability it is, particularly for a gull, rather dashing and neatly turned out; all of which impels one to go and see.
I can still recall the vivid excitement of travelling over for that Galway one as I had missed a couple of previous ones. It had been seen for a couple of days and I travelled with usual anxiety as to whether or not it had made off overnight. When I arrived at the pier there were only a couple of pensioners feeding the swans and gulls and my heart sank but I grabbed the binoculars and headed over towards them - no cameras etc in those days! Of course it hadn't left though and was scrapping with the locals for its share of the bread and after they had gone it did some fly pasts almost within touching distance. The surroundings were more prosaic than the usual pack ice but the experience was nonetheless joyful for me.
Twelve years later one showed up at Ardglass in Co Down. This time we travelled with a view to getting some photos, on what was one of the coldest days I ever remember being out in and the results of these are below - with some included in the Comment Box..