Monday, 15 October 2012

So long old pal

It was a bit like catching up with an old friend. I first saw this bird in 2007 at Deep Water Quay in Cobh. At the time I had never even seen a Sabine's Gull from a sea-watch or a pelagic so to tick it as it flew a few meters over my head was special. The bird has been coming each autumn to Cobh since 2003. Possibly this is a stop-over point for it as it moves between its breeding ground in arctic Canada to its winter retreat off the skeleton coast of Namibia. A real long distance traveller. It usually appears in late September and by early November it has moved on. Deep water quay must be like a motorway service station on it's long journey south.
A few weeks, Ronan McLaughlin had done a bit of spade-work and established that the bird was first seen in 2003 and that Sabine's Gulls have an average life expectancy of around 8-9 years. Given those details this may be one of the last times we see this bird. It will definitely be for me as this is my final autumn in Cork. A move to the UK takes place in early January. More on that later.
This afternoon the bird was out in the harbour doing its usual circuit, flying out towards Haulbowline Island before coming back in, flying level with the quayside just opposite the train station before heading back out again in a wide arc. Just as it had been the first time I saw it five years ago.
After 20 minutes the drizzle started and quickly got heavier. Not wanting to get my gear wet, I packed up and headed for home. I bade my old friend farewell, wishing them well on their onward journey and thanking them for honouring us once again with a short visit.

Sabine' Gull, Cobh, Cork - 15th October 2012

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