Daily birding turns up a rare bird

Well, recently I go birding every day. Very often I go alone. Sometimes I go in the late afternoon with my kids and just have a look around. I just feel it's important to get out every single day. I am really working on building tours on the one hand, and just having fun on the other. But almost every birder has the idea at the back of their head that they may just turn up something rare.

This afternoon I was out with my boys at the Mile 4 Salt works. It isn't too far from home, and I take the boys out there to get a bit of space and let my older one ride his bike. I went round to have a look at a tern roost while I was there.

While I was looking around I saw a gull with a dark head. It's easy to miss in the group of terns. But sure enough it was a gull with a somewhat darker head. It didn't look dark enough to be Franklin's Gull. I thought it must be a Common Black-headed Gull.

My kids were getting restless, and so I took them back home, grabbed various field guides to help with the id. The bird was really far off, not moving much at all, and the day was running out. I tried and tried to get a better view. I would still put my money on Common Black-headed Gull, which, though we had one in Walvis Bay recently, is still a rare bird. A Franklin's would be much better.

Anyway, day ran out, and I still haven't seen the wings, which would really clinch it. I hope to get out there with a friend tomorrow with a scope and hope to still catch up with the bird. It's no mega, but it's still a big deal to call in a rare bird. It was a lifter for me just recently, and I am getting to the point where lifers are starting to be very hard to come by in this region of the country.

If you know these birds, here is some of what I saw:

It sat low down, hardly lifing it's head at all. That could just be the result of getting lost. Other rare birds I have seen in this area do have a bit of a daze about them. I think if you show up lost on the central Namib coast as a bird, you are super lost.

Anyway, head looked a bit grizzled in front, more uniform behind. It doesn't extend very far down the back of the neck.

There is some white around the eye. It was really hard to get a good look at it, despite great light. It was just to far off. But it seemed to me that the white around the eye was only above the eye.

The color of the beak I couldn't say. Legs too. The belly was a yellowish compared with the terns. Still white, but not as white as the terns. The back was similar color to a Common Tern, slightly darker than Sandwich tern. It was never near other gulls, but when I compared it with Hartlaub's gulls, it seemed smaller. But that could just be the fact that it sat low down, and perhaps it was further in the water. It was constantly surounded by a lot of terns.

Anyway, hopefully we shall see.

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