Saturday, 30 November 2013

More Caspian Gulls

For a change I spent some time at Shawell again today. The area that is being landfilled is visible from the roadside along Gibbet Lane again. No good for reading rings due to the distance, but I did pick out an adult and a second-winter Caspian Gull amongst the thousands of feeding gulls.

In the end I saw two second-winter Caspian Gulls and both were present at the A5 Lagoons at the same time during the afternoon. I'm pretty sure that one of them was the bird I spotted at the landfill site earlier in the day. The one below appears to have quite pale eyes. Seen closely they are coffee coloured.

Second-winter Caspian Gull

Saturday, 23 November 2013

Shawell A5 lagoons

Herring Gull numbers have built up quite considerably since last weekend. I counted over 1000 today along with a maximum day count of 291 Great Black-backed Gulls. 

Amongst the commoner species were three adult Yellow-legged Gulls including an intriguing dark mantled individual and a new adult or sub-adult Caspian Gull.

Caspian Gull

Friday, 22 November 2013

More First-winter Yellow-legged Gulls

First-winter Yellow-legged Gulls are still showing up at Shawell A5 Lagoons, Leicestershire. 

I may be seeing more 1st-year birds just because I've got my eye in, but it would appear that more of them are using the site this year than last.

First-winter Yellow-legged Gull

Caspian Gull Review (Not for the Faint-Hearted)

I've just carried out a review of all of the Caspian Gulls I've seen at Shawell this year. I found two amongst them that I no longer consider proven, but I'm happy to say that the others were OK.

Third-winter Caspian Gull

Monday, 11 November 2013

Small Female Caspian Gull

A smallish gull caught my eye on Saturday at Shawell A5 lagoons. Its clean white and grey plumage had me thinking Caspian Gull, but I wasn't fully convinced. Not all Caspian Gulls exhibit the full suite of characters that we perhaps expect. Its bill although parallel sided was not exceptionally long and it head despite being small didn't seem to have much of a slope to the forehead.

I hastily took some images of it whilst it bathed and these show a set of features consistent with it being an unquestionable Caspian Gull.

Bathing Caspian Gull

Friday, 1 November 2013

Azorean Gull Again

I'm still working through my gull photos from Portugal and researching the gull I consider to be an Azorean Gull. The experienced gull watchers that I've asked have either energetically or cautiously agreed with my ID. However,  a couple have suggested that it may have come from either Madeira or the Canaries rather than the Azores, as the Yellow-legged Gull populations from these islands can look the same as those from the Azores. I think this is a just in case remark. 

Photographic evidence appears to show more extensive head streaking on the Azores individuals and so my bird looks good as far as that's concerned. A single mirror on P10 only is more common amongst the Azores population rather than from the other islands - mine had just a single small mirror on P10 and no mirror on P9. The mantle shade/colour of my bird also fits Azorean best as far as I can determine.

Azores Gull, Portimao fishing Harbour, Portugal, October 1st 2013
Below is a comparison of four different gulls, including the Azorean, photographed around the same time. 

In clockwise order from top left: Yellow-legged Gull, my Azorean Gull, Channel Isles Lesser Black-backed Gull and a Scottish Lesser Black-backed Gull. Looking at these images it would appear that the mantle grey gets darker in that order. Yellow-legged Gull is said to have a Kodak Grey Scale value of 5 -7 , Azorean Gull 7-9 and Lesser Black-backed Gull 8-10.

In the close up image below of the mantles in the same order it would appear to agree, but there isn't that much difference between the Channel Isles Lesser Black-backed Gull and my Azorean Gull. This is unsurprising really as the Lesser Black-backed Gulls from the south and west of Britain are the palest of the species. The Kodak Grey Scale range of Lesser Black-backed Gull is 8-10 and Azorean Gull 7-9, so there is a good overlap.