Saturday 6 April 2013

More Cold Weather Gulling

The cold north-easterly wind has been holding back the gulls from moving on to their breeding areas, as well as preventing the bulk of the summer migrants making their way to Britain. Amongst today's crop was the smart 1st-winter Iceland Gull that I first found on March 9th.  It was quite a sight watching it in flight amongst the other gulls.

Faded 1st-winter Iceland Gull, Shawell A5 

In addition Steve Lister and I had at least four Caspian Gulls and three Yellow-legged Gulls. 2nd-winter Caspian Gulls are quite regular at the site and today I found three. Classic 2nd-winters are very distinctive with neat dark centred greater coverts creating an obvious bar plus adult like median coverts and mantle and scapular feathers contrasting with the immature lesser and greater coverts. One such bird was at the landfill. I was treated to a comparison of the underwing pattern of Caspian, Yellow-legged and Herring Gull of similar ages as they squabbled over feeding rights. The underwing of the Caspian Gull was clean white, the Yellow-legged Gull was white with extensive brown markings  and the Herring Gull had mostly dirty brown underwings. At the Shawell A5 Lagoons I spotted a gull with many pro 2nd-winter Caspian Gull features, however, its plumage was less distinctive as its greater and lesser coverts were faded, but structurally it was spot on.

2nd-winter Caspian Gull, Shawell A5 Lagoons
The Caspian Gull above demonstrates the most distinctive plumage of 2nd-winter Caspian Gull. The dark bar is  obvious on the greater coverts as are some new adult like median coverts. The fine streaking on the nape; the small clean white head and beady eye; the hanging rear belly; the kinked neck and the strong black tail band and primaries also help point to its identity. In this picture its bill looks a bit stubby but that is down to the angle of its head. The underwings were very white, which is anther thing to look for as previously mentioned.

Three odd gulls were seen: a Herring Gull with many white primary feathers and two others with faded buff primaries. The one in the photo below is a large bird, which could be a hybrid.

Pale Gull

As well as the gulls we were treated to a fly past by a splendid Red Kite.

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