Chris Watson

Nhulunbuy (NT) Black-headed Gull Makes Headlines

Chris Watson

Black-headed Gull (back) with Silver Gull on the shore at Nhulunbuy (NT). Image with kind permission of Karen Rose.

Australia’s ninth Black-headed Gull Chroicocephalus ridibundus, has been re-found near the remote East Arnhem Land town of Nhulunbuy.

First reported by Chris Wiley on the 2nd of February around the old alumina refinery’s export conveyor, this got everyone’s attention. This is a bird still absent from some of our top twitchers’ lists. Sadly Chris didn’t manage any photographs of the bird and failed to re-find it the following day. At a remote locality like this a report with no pictures just doesn’t cut the mustard to get most twitchers booking flights.

So it was all the more exciting on the 11th of February when Karen Rose poked her head above the virtual parapet to post a distant phone-through-scope photo of the bird. Distant and grainy though the shot was, it was sufficient to establish a good identification of the bird which (STBA*) will be our ninth record of the species. Both Birdline reports can be viewed here.

Black-headed Gull preening. Image with kind permission from Karen Rose.

Even better news was that Karen had first noticed the bird on the 9th of February, so it seems to be at least briefly site-faithful most days, apparently at low tide. This is a fairly out-of-the-way spot so the question that remains now is… who’s going to twitch it?

PS: ABC weren’t slow to pick up the story and you can read James Purtill's article here. Before anyone jumps in, Sean Dooley (@twitchathon) was quick to correct himself on Twitter; it was a Javan Pond Heron, not a Chinese.

*Subject To BARC Approval – a phrase this writer employs so often it warrants the abbreviation.