Sunday, 2 December 2012

A Great Day - Two Caspians Gulls and a Famous Victory

I had had a productive morning but the cold weather and the lack of birds encouraged me to head home early. I was also keen to see how England would get on against the mighty All Blacks. I had argued with a South African friend during the week that England were making progress, however, that just got me a cocky smile. The New Zealanders obviously weren't in agreement with him, as they had already made their excuses mid-week - a virus was it?

Anyway England stuffed them! 

I guess time will tell whether this is the start of something great, but for now:

England 38 New Zealand 21 - get in there!

I couldn't find a home grown version of the highlights, so this one is the selected highlights that the New Zealanders are more comfortable with. Funny how it doesn't show the England players reacting to the final whistle.

Try this one:

Earlier in the day I was at my usual Saturday morning hang out - Shawell A5 Lagoons. The day started well with a colour ringed Herring Gull, T:090, which had been ringed in Aberdeenshire during 2010. It had also been seen at Shawell back in January of this year by Neil Hagley. Also two more colour ringed Lesser Black-backed Gulls put in an appearance. I had seen JL67, a Norwegian ringed bird in March this year, but the other one, DXJ, was new and was a Gloucestershire ringed bird.

A couple of Yellow-legged Gulls arrived mid-morning, but the main event was not one but two 2nd-winter Caspian Gulls. The first bird was slightly less advanced in its progression towards adulthood compared to the second bird.

2nd-winter Caspian Gull
The main difference between the two birds was that the second individual had no retained immature mantle and scapular feathering unlike the first one. It also lacked a small pale mirror on P10 (the longest primary feather) that the second bird had. 

The Second 2nd-winter Caspian Gull of the Day

Both birds shared a set of features that helped me arrive at the identification: 

white heads, dark eyes, distinctive sloping forehead, heavy, long and parallel sided bills, fine streaking on the nape and breast sides, the advanced stage of moult compared to similar aged Herring Gulls, long spindly legs, dark brown white fringed tertials, hanging rear belly, very white on most of the underwing and clean white upper tail coverts and distinctive black tail tips.

The length of the bills at times looked comically long and then with a slight turn of the head they would appear much shorter. This can be seen by comparing the first photo with the other two. 

Underwing Pattern of one of the 2W Caspian Gulls

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