In freezing winds I waited at the causeway between Weymouth and Portland for the arrival of a Ross’s Gull. An enterprising visitor from the pack ice of North America, this extremely rare gull is, unusually for a gull, appealing to a wider audience – dainty, rosy and elegant in shape. The species is also notorious for wandering around, and news soon arrived it was somewhere else – at Lodmoor. By the time we arrived there, it had flown off. Ferrybridge yielded ringed plovers and red-breasted mergansers for the year, whilst a Mediterranean Gull was observed by Weymouth Pier on leaving the B&B.
11:30: Portland Bill, Dorset (50.514097, -2.455360)
With no sign of the pack ice wanderer, a visit to the Bill provided the spectacle of four purple sandpipers being battered by the waves on the rocks just E of the lighthouse. As each wave crashed in, the birds scuttled out of the way, only to return and feed in its wake. I then drove back into Weymouth in search of the gull.
12:30-13:15: Lodmoor West Scrape, Dorset (50.629974, -2.443826)
In anticipation of the gull dropping in, a pleasant spell at a sunny Lodmoor, a lovely little reserve nesting right in the heart of Weymouth, produced a range of waders including an avocet, five ruff, black-tailed godwit, lapwing, snipe and dunlin. Whilst the target gull never appeared, between 12:45 and 12:50, in rapid succession, two Glaucous Gull, a second and third winter, dropped into the scrape, with the third-winter being strikingly owlish white in colour. Two spoonbills, one colour-ringed, gave superb views feeding at close range.
14:20-15:30: Radipole Lake, Dorset (50.615604, -2.460220)
After checking Bowleaze Cove, news came that the Ross’s Gull had been refound at Radipole Lake. Given its preference for staying in any place for just ten minutes at a time, the foot went firmly down on the accelerator. On arrival at 14:35, a group of around forty people were enjoying this snowy wanderer, which, as someone said, looked almost like a snow-petrel with its tiny dark eye and bill. The rosy hints on the under-parts were apparent in the sunlight. Around 14:50, the bird took flight once again, looking in excellent shape considering its remarkable journey.