I've got a thing for Iceland Gull. There's just something about 'm! Something Glaucous Gull for instance misses. Like there's something about Caspian Gull that's missing in Yellow-legged.
In 1992, as a young teenager, I saw my first IG on my local winter patch: the harbour of Scheveningen. In the Netherlands, Scheveningen is Iceland Gull capital.
Now, 25 years later, I saw my 25th one for the site (see pic on top of this post). A milestone (thanks Wim). Who would have thought back in 1992? Until 1997 Iceland Gull even had to be submitted to the Dutch rarity committee!
22 of these birds were 1st winters (calling them juveniles would be more appropriate). I haven't seen a single 2nd winter in Scheveningen (though I have seen it elsewhere). The first IG I found myself wasn't until 2004. Now I've found at least six. Remarkably I found all of the (sub)adults I saw myself.
I think back at the thrill the adult caused that flew past me in January 2012. I started looking for it to get another view, and finally got another fly by. Or so I thought. When I checked my photographs it appeared that I first photographed a 3rd winter and then found a true adult an hour later!
I think about the another adult in December 2013. When it got closer the thrill got even bigger: it turned out to be the 3rd Kumlien's Gull for the Netherlands (pic below).
However, nothing beats early 2017, when an unprecedented influx of white-wingers hit our coast. Amongst at least 12 (but probably more) Glaucous, we identified no less than 8 Iceland Gulls (of which I saw 7), with up to 6 birds present at the same time.
But most of all, in these 25 years, I've learnt how wonderfully variable the young birds are. Some are very white, others are quite dark, some are a bit smudgy (2nd pic of this post!), some pretty big, others incredibly neatly patterned and so slim that they reach esthetical perfection (see below!).
Iceland Gull is clearly on the increase. I hope it won't take another 25 years to hit the 50 mark.