Monday 3 September 2012

A Long Way From Home

I know that gulls are not everyone's cup of tea, but yesterday I managed to read the ring of one at Shawell A5 lagoons, Leicestershire and I was not expecting it to be quite as exciting as it turned out to be.
The gull was of the black headed variety (Larus ridibundus) and had been ringed at the Zagreb rubbish tip in Croatia. The ringer, Luka Jurinovic, was very pleased to receive my email as it was the first bird he had ringed that had been re-located in England. It was also the first ringing recovery of a Black-headed Gull in the UK from Croatia. I'm not totally sure of the distance, but according to Google it is 900 miles as the crow rather than the gull flies.

The colour ring was white with a black inscription SJ22. Considering the distance is approximately 150 metres, the white rings with black coding are reasonably easy to read. This varies, however, depending on the conditions: too bright and colour rings are difficult to read and the same if it is very dull.

A Black-headed Gull, but not the Black-headed Gull

I was at Shawell A5 lagoons on both Saturday and Sunday this weekend, although Sunday was an added bonus after I was called upon by Adey Baker to help him re-locate a Pied Flycatcher. The flycatcher had disappeared and as I had a pass out I wasn't going to waste it.

The highlight at Shawell was another 4CY Caspian Gull. There was also a good selection of  Yellow-legged Gulls of different ages on offer. The Caspian was moulting its primary feathers and as such looked to have very short wings. The longest ones were just beginning to grow back, but what could be seen was spot on for its age. There was a nice broad black band on P5. This individual appears very similar to the other 4CY one I found earlier in August, but there are some slight differences in the bill length and shape that make me think it is a new bird.

A 1st-summer / 2nd-winter YLG joined the Caspian for a while which made a good photographic subject and a great comparison Note the dark white tipped tertial feathers; the new grey mantle feathers; the anchor marked scapulars; the streaking on the lower neck; the white head, throat and upper neck; the fine streaking around the ear coverts and the all black thick stubby bill.

4CY Caspian Gull with 1st-summer / 2nd-winter Yellow-legged Gull in the Foreground

4CY Caspian Gull, Shawell 2/9/2012

Yellow-legged Gull

Yellow-legged Gull 

Monster 4CY Yellow-legged Gull

Herring Gull

Herring Gulls are starting to overtake YLG's in number now and some of them pose a few problems after being used to most of the mid-grey birds being YLG's. Herring Gulls generally have a more happy chappy look about them to me.

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