Sabine's Gull, Scarborough (Redcliffe, QLD)

Subject: Sabine's Gull, Scarborough (Redcliffe, QLD)
From: "Colin R" <>
Date: Wed, 19 Mar 2008 07:50:04 +1000

I have to say 'thanks' to Robert Morris for his description of the
Sabine's Gull in Redcliffe. Why? Becasue I think this email is a great
example of a descriptive report - something I think that is almost going
out of fashion as we all grab for our cameras and rely on technology to
prove a sighting. Couldn't you just see the bird flying by in your mind?
The plumage descriptors and especially the jizz, comparisons with Silver
Gulls etc were just perfect! In the 'old' days we all had to write
reports and hence our observing skills were of a high degree - my worry
now is that this will be lost as technology provides an easy
alternative. Photos are great, but the reliance on them to identify
unusual species is a concern.
The recent discussion emails around the Cooktown Gull were of a similar
quality and absolutely necessary as photos just were not enough. I would
like to encourage all birders to be observant, make notes, leave the
field guide at home and only reach for the camera as a final resort.
It's bird watching and bird observing - let's all make sure the skill
stays alive.


On Mon, 17 Mar 2008 09:57:27 +0000, "robert morris"
<> said:
> Hi
> Sorry for the silence from my end, while people have been trying to get
> info on this sighting. I've had a difficult day getting too and from work
> as my car was written-off 10 mins after I got off the Southport Pelagic
> on Saturday afternoon when a big 4WD and boat ploughed into the back of
> me (as Paul Walbridge and others can confirm!!)
> This is (was) a genuine observation. It's one of those species we (Poms)
> see regularly particulalry in the SW of the UK in August-Sept. I have
> seen a lot going back to the 70s! I would have made more of an effort to
> report it earlier had it not been for the fact that it didn't stop (I was
> hoping it would drop in with the roosting Silver Gulls and Terns) but it
> just carried on going beyond Drury Point and out into Morton Bay towards
> the port. They rarely stop in the UK with other gulls when they are
> passing along the coast. Also I didn't have my mobile phone with me so I
> couldn't contact local birders immediately.
> My honest obsevations were: it was approximately 50m off-shore on a
> rising tide. I was probably c. 30-40m from the shore. The winds onshore
> were reasonable strong (30-35kph). I noticed a small gull which had an
> almost tern like 'light' flight coming towards me from N to S with a
> black (looking) head.  I nearly fell off the seat and raised my bins.
> Those of you who have seen Sabine's know the head is a very dark ashy
> grey but in bright light the hood looks more or less black, and in such
> conditions you can't see the black border where the hood meets the white
> neck feathers unless it is fluttering around you or sitting on the beach!
> The wing pattern was immediately striking with a black wedge of outer
> primaries, a white triangle of inner primaries and secondaries and a grey
> mantle and coverts. The tail was white. They are simply unmistakeable.
> The bird flew reasonable direct and low across the water but did briefly
> lift and interact with a couple of Silver gulls which were clearly larger
> than it. It then carried going in a pretty direct way and fairly low I
> assume due to the wind.
> I didn't see the yellow tip to the bill (again those of you who have seen
> Sabine's will know that this is not easy to see in bright light against a
> bright sea when a bird is flying) and I didn't notice white tips to the
> primaries (the same comment applies).  The eye / eye-ring weren't
> discernable. I was using 10x40 Leicas.
> I reported it so others could go and look for it in case it hangs around.
> They occasionally do and I have seen quite a few on London Reservoirs
> following SW gales in the UK. That said they are a very pelagic gull and
> it may well just bugger off out to sea. I will report the sighting in a
> genuine way (who to?) but I am completely unconcerned whether it is
> accepted or not. I'm not in the slightest bit interested in Aus listing
> (I only keep a world list) and my lifers at Sundown (Turquoise Parrots,
> Diamond Firetails and Fuscous Honeyeater) the previous weekend and the
> views of Tahiti Petrel and White-necked Petrel on Saturday were far more
> interesting to me personally!
> cheers
> Rob Morris  Brisbane, Australia > From: > To:
> > Date: Mon, 17 Mar 2008 17:14:39 +1000>
> Subject: [Birding-Aus] Sabine's Gull, Scarborough (Redcliffe, QLD)> > Hi
> all,> > Made it out to the Redcliffe area this afternoon - work
> commitments> prevented me going earlier - to look for the Sabine's Gull.
> No Tony, it is> not a furphy, the observer concerned has seen hundreds of
> them and it's in> full breeding nick. If you've seen a Sabine's before
> you'll know they're> unmistakeable even in non-breeding plumage.> >
> Unfortunately, I was unable to verify it myself, despite checking every>
> group of gulls I could find between Scarborough Boat Harbour and
> Clontarf.> Basically it could be anywhere in Moreton Bay or beyond and
> I'll have> another look tomorrow morning including at Southbank in South
> Brisbane,> where a Franklin's Gull turned up in the late 1990s. Obviously
> the more eyes> out, the better.> > It's worth pointing out that the rocky
> spit to the right of the boat harbour> at Scarborough had probably a
> couple of hundred Silver Gulls roosting this> afternoon along with
> Crested, Caspian, Common and Little Terns. It was the> first place I
> looked and certainly it wasn't a bad place to start. Bob> Inglis I hope
> has his eagle eyes out in the area so hopefully it'll show up.> > Andrew
> Stafford> > ===============================>>
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  Colin Reid
So many birds, so little time......

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