© Durham Bird Club. Managed by Sacha Elliott

Sep 2, 2017

inland Gannet


Edited: Sep 2, 2017

Standing in the late afternoon sun, scanning over the canopy of Lambton Estate I was sure I would pick out a Hobby - as I have done on several occasions..

As the 100+ hirundines buzzed around excitedly, i picked up a Large bird in the far distance.

An obvious wide wingspan was apparent as it came at me head on.

As it altered course I could see immediately it was a young Gannet.


What !!


It was certainly a double take moment & I looked through the scope to check.

I generally try to snatch a record photograph, but I just stood watching it steadily & purposefully go over.


It was a flat calm, warm sunny evening in a wooded river valley - i smiled as it went by, thinking i couldnt possibly imagine anywhere & any time when a GANNET would be less likely to turn up !


But there you have it, that's the joy you get from the local patch

(the only thing that could have sweetened the record was if i'd been on foot (OFFH) & someone else had been present to confirm such a bizarre occurance ! )


These are the most recent inland Gannet records I can find :-


2015- juv well inland at Woodland 20 SEPT

2011- adult north at Ch-le-Street 13 SEPT

2011- 2 adults north at Sedgeletch 27 SEPT

2011- juv on Castle Lake 2 OCT


2000- 1 on Tyne at Jarrow 19 JULY


1995- 1 flew over Stockton/Norton 29 SEPT

1992- 1 circling Shotton Colly 6 SEPT

1990- 2 at Dham City - adult north 14 SEPT

& juv attacked by Magpies 14 SEPT


1989- 1 dead Longnewton Res 18 JAN


1975 - 1 dead R.Wear W-le-Wear 22 MAR


Its clear September is peak month


An inland Gannet record is comparable to what in record terms.....??


Sep 3, 2017

Difficult to find a comparable species being so abundant at the coast and so unusual inland. Apart from obviously sick or completely disoriented birds I suspect odd birds make cross country movements. Not as surprising as the Cory's Shearwater that overflew London last year! Still a great inland patch bird.

Sep 4, 2017Edited: Sep 4, 2017

Inland Gannet theory....


Out of such a small number of records, its interesting that these 4 are all flying north down the same 7mile section of the R.Wear valley (Sedgeletch being on the edge, but clearly on the same & regular (Cormorants etc) river flight line, during the same month.


2017- juv north at Chartershaugh 2 SEPT

2011- adult north at Ch-le-Street 13 SEPT

2011- 2 adults north at Sedgeletch 27 SEPT

1990- 2 at Dham City - 1 adult north 14 SEPT


The only other factor I can think of regarding my sighting was this was the first post breeding season day that I had seen 1,000's of gulls.


Lots of birds taking advantage of easy picking from many area being ploughed.


A huge spiral of 1,000 or ploughed land on the escarpment - the gulls rising to several hundred feet when disturbed - & obviously visible from a good distance.


The limestone escarpment from Houghton southwards creates ideal conditions for birds to gain height particularly when the predominantly south west breeze hits it.

This is clear to see even on Calm winter evenings - after feeding inland the gulls head East to roost on the sea, all spiral up above the escarpment to gain height for the last few mile to the coast.


I wonder if coastal Gannets can see these spiralling flocks & come inland to check them out presuming its a fish related feeding frenzy ? - they see no large water body & redirect by following the Wear back to the coast as the 4 records indicate ?

Sep 4, 2017

Interesting theory and one that would make sense if records occur on clear days?

Sep 4, 2017

Could be merit in your theory. Over the past couple of weeks the Browney Valley has been full of gulls following the plough from field to field. At least 1000 birds at a time.

The rush to prepare for winter wheat (harvest, bale or burn, plough in 4/5 days) means that there is plenty to attract very visable sized gull flocks during the early September period.


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