On the 13th January 2011 Dominic Mitchell discovered a strange large gull on the landfill adjacent to the reserve. He had a very good idea of what he had found and by that evening the news was out that the very first slaty-backed gull this side of the Atlantic had be identified.  They normally live around the Pacific in Japan and west coast America so this was big news in the birding world.

Dominic Mitchell

The next day was somewhat busy and I was lucky enough to be able to escape and cycle down there from the visitor centre and scramble up the bank just in time to get some great views of this imposing gull that looked like a very pink legged, chunky lesser black-backed gull before cycling back with, if I remember correctly, a tempestuous squall chasing me all the way.

Priscille Durnerin

That first Saturday was somewhat frenetic with our car park being open early and birders arriving from across the country and even from the Netherlands, France and Belgium. Nearly 2000 descended on us on that very wet and wild winters day but only a handful left with seeing the bird amongst the melange of gulls moving between the landfill and Wennington Marsh. 

Over the next few weeks it was seen a couple more time and was even picked up on another landfill at Pitsea and inland at Hanningfield Reservoir before giving itself up for a couple of days in mid February much to the relief of those close enough to make another visit.

Adrian Webb

There have since been several more slaty-backed gulls in Europe but we shall always remember that we had the first one here!