The title isn't intended as a comment on the state of Scottish rugby after today's loss to England by the way, as they played quite well - come on England!
The gulls seem to have altered their habits at present at Shawell. They are visiting the lagoons by the A5 less often and not staying there for long when they do.
As a result I've turned my attention to the landfill site. Most views are a little distant, but occasionally the gulls come close to the viewing point that I have found. So far I have had a Glaucous Gull, four Caspian Gulls and a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls. I have also read four colour rings.
An Iceland or Kumlien's Gull had been at Draycote Water last night, so Dave Gray joined me at the tip hoping it had come to Shawell in search of a meal. We had no luck with the white winger, but we did see a YLG and a CG. The gulls are usually a bit too far away to get decent images through my scope, but I'm pleased with my DSLR scoping attempts today.
The identification of the above bird was not obvious at first, as Dave and I couldn't make up our minds whether its legs were actually yellow. This was proven when I cranked up the magnification on my scope to 60x. The legs were covered in dried dirt and so the legs appeared much duller than normal. The yellow just shows in the image above. The primary pattern was spot on for this species, as was the dark grey mantle colour, the red orbital ring around the eyes and the bill shape. We also saw the bird in flight and it looked perfect for YLG.
|Yellow-legged and Herring Gulls|
Ther upperparts of the YLG, in the image above (right hand bird), are just slightly darker than the nearby adult Herring Gull. Argentatus Herring Gulls can have upperparts just as dark grey as YLG, so this feature is not always a deal clincher. Most times though it is a stand out feature.
|Lesser Black-backed Gull (JLU)|
This was the closest I've got to a colour ringed bird, so far, but even so the choice of letters was not the easiest to read. JLU was ringed at Gloucester landfill site on 22/05/2010.
|Lesser Black-backed Gull (JLU)|
I estimated that at least a thousand gulls were hidden from view beneath us as occasionally they would fly up. Luckily a 2nd-winter Caspian Gull landed on the ridge not too far away. 2nd-winter Caspian Gulls don't really have a distinctive plumage like adults and 1st-winters, but this bird was really obvious. Its structure was spot on, but whether this has reproduced well in the photo below I'm not sure. It was noticeably long-legged and the bill was at times really long and parallel sided, but in this image (the sharpest one I got) the head is turned slightly away, so it doesn't look so long. The main features are: a clean white head and underparts, a long straight bill, dark eyes, grey mantle, scapular and some covert feathers, dark pale edged tertials, long flesh coloured legs and a hanging under belly. The grey of the mantle, just like the 1st winter the other day, has a silvery tone about it.
|2nd-winter Caspian Gull|
I am pleased with the results I've achieved with my DSLR and scope today. Hopefully it will work as well with other species at a similar distance. I'm sure it will work with Little Owls, as I can give them a bit of extra breathing space compared to when working with my 400mm lens.
I discovered a lane than runs close to the rubbish tip on the north side. It will hopefully give me the chance to get a good look at the working part of the tip. I will need to choose an overcast day though, as the sun will cause problems on bright days.
2nd-winter Caspian Gull
More From Shawell
Heavily Streaked Yellow-legged Gull
More Caspian Gulls
More Caspian Gulls - part two
A Great Day - Two Caspian Gulls and a famous Victory
Ducks and Seagulls
The hard Yards