There is a Ross's gull at Public hide today. Why is that special? Well because there are only a few records of them in Britain every year. They breed in the high Arctic of northernmost North America and north east Siberia. They then over winter in Arctic oceans mainly, so quite simply, it shouldn't really be here in this country.
The Ross's gull is very small and at first glance looks just like, well, a small gull. Now scientific names can seem a bit daunting, but if you look up their meaning, they often give great clues as to the habits or appearance of a bird, and the Ross's gull is a great example of this. Its scientific name is Rhodostethia rosea. The first part of this name - the genus, is 'Rhodon' from the Greek, meaning 'the rose' and 'stethos'' from the Greek meaning 'breast'. The second half of its scientific name (which is the species) is from the Latin 'rosa' meaning 'the rose'. Ross's gulls have pinky coloured breasts, so their scientific name is pretty accurate really.
The Ross's gull is named after Sir James Clark Ross, an Arctic Explorer in the mid 1800s, who chartered much of the Arctic coastline and discovered a lot of the area.
It is the first time this gull has ever been seen at Leighton Moss so it's caused a lot of excitement. If any of you are coming to see it, please park in the main car park and walk, rather than parking on the road, as it is very narrow and winding. If you manage to get any photos, we would love to see them, so send them through to email@example.com
Here's a pic (it was getting dark so isn't the brightest)
Ross's gull by Kevin Kelly
There was also a kittewake and a guillemot paddling about on Public pool this afternoon, which are more common birds in the UK than the Ross's gull, but certainly not here! They breed on cliff faces like our Bempton Cliffs reserve and then spend the winters out at sea, certainly not in reedbed! Public hide was action packed this afternoon, and all of this whilst our important mud pumping was going on! This vital work is to remove silt from the pools to improve conditions for aquatic plants, insects and fish and the larger wildlife that eats them. See my previous blog here for details. The wildlife is completely unfazed by the machinery, indeed the Ross's gull was flying around past the moving digger and the tufted ducks and the single scaup were swimming around it.
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