At some point during each winter and usually in the month of January, a Mediterranean Gull will appear amongst the flocks of hundreds of local gulls. These are scarce birds and it always a challenge searching through the masses of similar looking Black-Headed Gulls to find one. I must admit I have got better at picking them out of the feathered crowd with time and the subtle differences in winter plumage between the two species now becoming more obvious to me. This winter a bird arrived early and has stayed local through the entire season which has provided plenty of photo opportunities of what I consider to be one of our most elegant gull species.
I first found the bird towards the end of November and this particular individual seemed less wary than usual and provided a great deal of fun and many very close encounters.
This photograph of the bird was achieved with a shallow depth of field to turn the grass into green mist as it was peering up over the top of a bank, whilst resting amongst the roosting gull flocks.
I found the bird once again just before Christmas with snow laying on the ground. A couple of photos have appeared in previous posts but here is another flight photo from that session of wonderful reflected light.
Christmas came and went and on the 2nd of January and my new 'friend' was one of the first birds to put an appearance in front of the lens during 2011.
I did not photograph the bird for another 6 weeks and was pleasantly surprised during our next encounter in mid February on how far it had progressed in to summer plumage. Once these birds start changing to their summer colours progression is often quite rapid. I have never managed to photograph a Mediterranean Gull in their smart full summer colours. The fact this bird seemed well advanced, before their normal departure around the beginning of March, offered encouragement that I might actually finally achieve the goal.
So a week later, and despite some fairly poor conditions, I was out once more searching amongst the ever increasing numbers of gulls. The bird had become quite obvious amongst the crowd by this time with its deep black head feathers standing out amongst the brown heads of the Black-headed Gulls (the clue is not always in the name!) as they transform to their summer colours
By this point all that was remaining were the last few white feathers around the beak to turn black.
It looked like in a few more days or another week at most that my chase to find those full summer colours of the Mediterranean Gull would be at an end. The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow was in sight. However, the bird had other ideas and appears to have finally departed and no doubt will appear once more at the end of the year returned to its full winter plumage. To be honest that final photo it is not really of importance and it is the numerous encounters and time spent in close proximity with this bird over the past few months that will persist in the memory.