Sunday, 14 October 2012

Short-eared Owl at Shawell

I was off getting my gull fix this afternoon at Shawell A5 Lagoons and I was most surprised to see a short-eared Owl. Looking up from my scope I saw three birds over the lake and they weren't gulls.
Two were obviously crows, but the third had a strange wing flap. As soon as I got them in my bins I realised that the strange wing flapper was an owl. Finding it in my scope I confirmed that it was a short-eared Owl. The crows were intent on mobbing the poor thing and after a while the owl gained height and disappeared eastwards. I did make an attempt to photograph it through my scope, but this proved to be impossible.

My journey into the darker arts of gull ID is progressing well. I have now identified six Caspian Gulls at the A5 Lagoons since July, countless Yellow-legged Gulls and a single juvenile Med Gull. There is no substitute for doing your time where gull ID is concerned, but it is getting a bit lonely at the side of the A5. I think it was August the last time I saw someone else there. Maybe that should tell me something?

I have now read 49 different colour rings and this is becoming even more of an obsession than gull ID. The percentage of readings compared to near misses is quite low. I failed with three Black-headed and two Great Black-backed Gulls yesterday. The light wasn't good enough for the BH Gulls and the GBB Gulls flew back into the water before I'd zoomed up my scope eyepiece. Who would have credited it, I've not read the ring of a GBB Gull yet and all of a sudden there are two with colour rings side by side!

Below is a photo of a super looking Yellow-legged Gull moulting into 3rd-winter plumage and also an adult YLG after that - enjoy:

Below is an underwing shot of an adult Caspian Gull I found last Friday. Note the long white tip of the longest primary P10 (in this case P10 is still growing) and the characteristic black mark on the same feather. This can be seen in some Herring Gulls though generally not so obviously black and white. The dark band on P5 is also helpful, however, this can also be present in some Herring Gulls. Other distinguishing features of this bird were its slender body shape, a small head with a gently sloping forehead, a dark eye and a washed out yellow bill, which was parallel sided lacking a pronounced Gonys angle.

No comments:

Post a Comment