Monday, 14 January 2019

More Glaucous Gulls

I was over at Shawell this morning and three juvenile Glaucous Gulls were in residence.

The regular juvenile was there and also the bird that was at Stanford Reservoir on Saturday plus a new one.

New Juvenile

The Stanford Bird

The Stanford Bird

Sunday, 13 January 2019


There's a lot of excitement at Shawell at the moment with all the lovely 'white-winged gulls' offering up some easy year ticks.

It's good to see people enjoying gulls and hopefully at least a few of the visitors will have taken away an interest in learning more about them. Gull identification takes dedication -  just an interest in getting a year tick won't help.

Before I talk about the gulls I must remind all visitors that parking is limited. There is only room for about four cars if everyone parks sensibly. A couple more cars may possibly be parked at Redlands near the entrance point. Park on the left in the entrance just before the gates. DO NOT block the gates. Use common sense and if you're told to move do so. Please remember this is a working quarry and landfill site; the road has a great deal of heavy traffic. Do NOT try to enter the landfill site or the quarry for any reason. Thank-you.

Back to the gulls - at present there is approximately 20,000 gulls at peak times around Shawell, but not always in locations that can be viewed. When they all come into view it is breath taking. A falconer is employed to scare the gulls and when one of his falcons is in the air it is wonderful to hear the sound made by all those wings as they wheel one way and then the other to evade the falcons talons.

It isn't just the 'white-wingers' that interest me, but there are fascinating birds even amongst the most common species. With practice you can separate many of Herring Gulls into the argentatus and argenteus subspecies. It is great to see very fresh juvenile Herring gulls from far to the north and the adults too.

A Large argentatus Herring Gull

Fresh First-Winter Herring Gull
Caspian Gulls are popular, but most birders really struggle with these. An apprenticeship with the commoner species is really useful, as it enables the observer to spot subtly different species like Caspian Gull. At Shawell adult Caspian Gulls are the least common with first-winters being the most regular. With so many gulls coming to the sandpit off Gibbet Lane it can be difficult to see the Casps from the Herrings, but with practice it becomes easier.

Third-Winter Caspian Gull
Today the weather was very poor and there was no tipping, however, a couple of Glaucous Gulls were around including a new juvenile and I showed four Caspian Gulls to some of the visiting birders.

Juvenile Glaucous Gull, January 12th 2019
Second-Winter Glaucous Gull January 12th 2019

Saturday, 12 January 2019

Possible Heughlin's Gull

Updated January 12th 2019.

Saturday July 22nd 2017 I found a second calendar-year gull at Cotesbach tip that had replaced all of its primary feathers. This is something not recorded in either graellsii or intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gulls, but is common in Baltic Gull Larus fuscus fuscus. The mantle and scapulars are too pale for a Baltic Gull. Heuglin's Gull is worth considering as they have been recorded with a full set of second generation primaries during summer of their second calendar-year. However, it is less common to see Heuglin's Gulls with new primaries than Baltic Gulls at this time in their second calendar-year. Or, possibly it is a very interesting gull just outside of our current knowledge range and so should remain un-identified? One regular contributor on Facebook's WP Gull Group said if he had to chose he would go for Heughlin's Gull. I was concerned about the complete set of fresh primaries, but check this out from the core range of Heughlin's in Russia 

Heughlin's Gull doesn't yet have a full criteria to help identify extralimital examples.

 Since 2014 and during the spring and summer months I have been searching through the first-summer  Lesser Black-backed Gulls looking for fresh black primary feathers. I struck lucky in July 2015 when I spotted a first-summer Baltic Gull at the landfill site, which has been now been accepted by the BBRC.

New Looking Primaries

Second Generation Tail Feathers (Retrices)

Open Wing Showing Second Generation Secondaries
Another View of The Second Generation Secondaries (note the neat unworn white tips and edges to the secondaries)

Saturday, 5 January 2019

All the 'White-Wingers'

White-Winged gulls still have some magic judging by the steady stream of visitors to Shawell at present. Here is an updated report on all the Iceland and Glaucous Gulls seen at Shawell so far. In re-doing this I have an increased total of 38 Iceland Gulls. The LROS records show that Iceland Gull 6 & 7 were the same bird, but I was never convinced by the finder of 6 that he actually aged it.

The finder is the first name in brackets and other observers are after the finders name. I have used my initials (CDB) and everyone else is named in full.

Glaucous Gull

36 have been seen to date. 


1. Juvenile Glaucous Gull, Cotesbach Landfill site on January 4th (Neil Hagley).

2. Juvenile, Cotesbach Landfill site on December 28th (CDB). 


3. Fourth-winter at both Cotesbach Landfill site and the A5 Lagoons on February        16th (CDB, Andy Forryan and Garsham Roberts). 

4. Juvenile at the A5 Lagoons on February 22nd (CDB).

5. Second-winter at both Cotesbach Landfill site and the A5 Lagoons on March 9th (Steve Lister, CDB). 

6. Juvenile at the A5 Lagoons on March 16th (CDB). It spent all afternoon on the lagoons. 

7.Juvenile at Shawell A5 Lagoons on March 27th (CDB).  I consider it to be a different individual to the one on March 16th due to its small size and plumage differences. 

8. Adult at Cotesbach Landfill site on March 28th (CDB).

9. Second-winter or pale juvenile at the A5 Lagoons on December 14th (CDB, Steve Nichols). 


10. Second-winter at Cotesbach landfill site and the A5 Lagoons on January 18th (CDB). 


11. Second-winter at the A5 Lagoons and Cotesbach Landfill site on January 20th (CDB) to 24th (CDB, Steve Nichols, Dave Scott and Andy Forryan). 

12. Third-winter at Cotesbach Landfill site on January 25th (CDB). 


13. Juvenile at Cotesbach Landfill site on January 9th (CDB). 

14. Juvenile on January 16th (CDB) & 21st (CDB) and February 18th (CDB, Steve Nichols).

15. Second-winter, January 21st at the A5 Lagoons (CDB, Steve Nichols). It had an injured leg. 

16. Fourth-winter at both Cotesbach landfill site and the A5 Lagoons on February 18th (CDB). 


17. Juvenile at the A5 Lagoons on January 11th (CDB). 

18. Juvenile at the sand quarry on January 21st (CDB). 

19. Juvenile at the sand quarry on January 27th (CDB) & 28th (CDB) and February 4th (CDB, Steve Nichols, Mike Alibone).

20. Juvenile (dark individual) at the sand quarry on February 11th (CDB, Tim Kociuch, Steve Nichols).

21. Adult at the sand quarry on February 11th (CDB, Tim Kociuch). This one had a colour-ring (orange G1NT) that was fitted by the North Thames Gull Group in March 2015. It has also been seen in Northamptonshire and Cheshire. It was again seen on February 17th at the landfill (Steve Nichols) and on February 18th in the sand quarry (CDB). On both the 17th & 18th its colour-ring was not visible, but on the 18th CDB saw the same or a similar mark on the adults neck that is visible in the photo from the 11th. G1NT was last seen by Steve Nichols on March 4th.

22. Adult with some vestiges of winter plumage at the landfill on February 17th (Steve Nichols). 

23. Juvenile at the sand quarry on February 18th (CDB). 

24. Juvenile on the landfill area December 9th (CDB, Steve Nichols). 

25. Adult at the landfill site on December 28th (CDB).


26. Juvenile on January 13th in the sheep field near Shawell village and on the landfill (CDB).

27. Juvenile on January 20th (CDB, Steve Nichols) and 25th (CDB).

28. Juvenile on February 3rd (CDB), 21st & 22nd (Steve Nichols et al).

29. Pale juvenile on April 16th (Steve Nichols, CDB).

30. Juvenile on December 8th (CDB, Steve Nichols).

31. Second-winter on December 13th (CDB), 14th (Steve Nichols), 15th (CDB), 28th (CDB) 29th (CDB, Steve Nichols).

32. Adult on December 29th (CDB, Steve Nichols). 


  • Second-winter (no. 31 first seen 2018) again on January 1st 2019 (CDB, Steve Nichols, Robert Lee), 3rd (Andy & Roger Brett, Brian Moore), 5th (CDB, Chris Hubbard, Mike Alibone, Richard Penson, 11th (Neil Hagley, Roger & Andy Brett, Brian Moore, CDB, et al) and 12th (CDB, Steve Nichols et al).
  • Adult (no. 32 first seen 2018) again January 1st 2019 (CDB) 11th.

33. Juvenile on January 3rd (Roger & Andy Brett, Brian Moore), 5th (Chris Hubbard, CDB, Mike Alibone), 7th (Rob Gill et al), 9th (CDB), 11th (Neil Hagley, Roger & Andy Brett, Brian Moore, CDB, et al), 13th (Brian Moore, Phil Crowfoot et al) and 14th (CDB et al).

34. Juvenile on January 12th (CDB, et al).

Juvenile on January 14th (CDB et al). Seen at Stanford res on January 12th.

36: Juvenile on January 14th (CDB).

Iceland Gull

A total of 38 (possibly 37) have been seen to date.


1. Juvenile between February 9th and 19th (Neil Hagley et al). Photo Here

2. Adult on February 23rd (Andy Howes).

3. Second-winter on December 11th and 12th (Neil Hagley and Dave Gray). Photo Here

4. Second-winter (Kumlien's Gull) March 6th to 18th (Neil Hagley et al) Photo Here


5. Second-winter on the A5 Lagoons on February 24th (Dave Gray).


6. Un-aged on the A5 Lagoons on December 27th (Garsham Roberts). Possibly the same as one on January 9th and 28th 2011 (7), but CDB not confident that this bird was aged by Garsham.


7. Third-winter at the A5 Lagoons between January 9th and 28th (CDB, Neil Hagley et al). 

8. Second-winter at the A5 Lagoons on February 29th (CDB). This one was probably a male and it had a distinctive bill pattern. Not photographed due to camera failure.

9. Second-winter at the A5 Lagoons on March 3rd (CDB, Steve Lister, Garsham Roberts).

10. Adult at the A5 Lagoons on March 10th (Neil Hagley) and 17th (CDB, Steve Lister).  Not photographed.

11. Second-winter at the A5 Lagoons on March 23rd (Dave Gray, CDB).


12. Biscuit coloured Juvenile at the landfill site on February 9th (CDB). Not photographed.

13. Pale juvenile at the A5 Lagoons on March 9th (CDB, Steve Lister), 27th (CDB) and 28th (CDB) plus April 6th (CDB).


14. Second-winter at both the landfill site and the A5 Lagoons on January 18th (CDB, Steve Nichols, Dave Gray).

15. Adult at the A5 lagoons on March 15th (CDB).

16. Third-winter at the A5 Lagoons on December 17th (CDB) and 20th (CDB, Steve Nichols).


17. Juvenile at the A5 Lagoons briefly on March 14th (CDB).


18. Juvenile at the A5 Lagoons on February 12th (CDB). 

19. Faded juvenile at the A5 Lagoons regularly from March 16th (CDB, Steve Nichols et al). Sadly it broke its wing and had to be taken into care and put to sleep on March 30th, as the injury was too severe. 

20. Third-winter at both the landfill site and the A5 Lagoons on April 9th (CDB).


21. Juvenile at the sand quarry on January 21st (CDB, Steve Nichols) and February 7th (CDB) and 11th (CDB, Tim Kociuch, Steve Nichols).

22. Adult at the sand quarry on February 4th (CDB).

23. Faded juvenile on April 1st, 8th and 15th (Steve Nichols, CDB).

24. Juvenile at the lagoons on the ice on December 12th (CDB) and at the landfill on December 16th (CDB, Steve Nichols).


25. Juvenile at the landfill on January 6th at the landfill site (CDB).

26. Juvenile on January 27th in the sand quarry (CDB, Roger Davis).

27. Adult on February 21st and 22nd (Steve Nichols et al) and it or another on March 17th (CDB), 21st (CDB) and 24th (CDB, Steve Nichols) Two adults have been roosting at Draycote during February and March. 

28. Second-winter in the sandpit on February 21st (Steve Nichols).

29. Second-winter in the sandpit on March 8th (David Scott, Rod Baker).

30. Juvenile at various locations around the area, on March 8th (Dave Scott, Rod Baker)  9th (CDB), 10th (CDB), 24th (CDB)  27th (Steve Nichols) and 31st (CDB).

31. Juvenile (a fresh looking bird not bleached) on March 17th (CDB) and 24th (Steve Nichols).

32Second-winter, quite large headed probably a male, at the landfill on March 31st (CDB). Not photographed.

33. Second-winter at the landfill on March 31st (CDB).

34. Juvenile at the landfill and sandpit on March 31st (CDB, Steve Nichols). Showed some characters of kumlieni.

35. Juvenile April 5th at the sandpit (Steve Lister) and at the A5 Lagoons on April 7th (CDB, Steve Nichols). Also on April 14th, 16th, 21st and 25th (CDB) and May 12th (CDB, Steve Nichols). May 12th is the latest date for an Iceland Gull seen in Leicestershire & Rutland.

36. Juvenile at the sandpit on April 6th (CDB).

37. Second-winter on April 14th (CDB, Steve Nichols).

38. Second-winter on December 31st (Steve Nichols, CDB, Rod Baker and Dave Scott).


  • Second-winter (no. 38 seen in 2018) again on January 2nd (Steve Lister), 3rd (Roger, Brian Moore), 5th (Richard Penson, CDB), 7th (unknown), 8th (Steve Nichols) and 9th (CDB, Chris Hubbard). 

To be continued...