Sunday 6 September 2015

First-Winter Already

I have been working hard this summer at Shawell to pick out a juvenile Caspian Gull, but it has not gone to plan! In July I thought I'd got one, but that one turned out to be most likely a hybrid. Another one in August proved to be even more challenging. On Facebook's European Gulls it was given the thumbs up, but its coverts were quite fussy. I would like to see the coverts being a bit plainer. That said I favour Caspian Gull rather than a very skinny long legged Yellow-legged Gull.

Caspian Gull, First-Winter, Cotesbach LF site, September 2015
Yesterday I spotted a young Caspian Gull, but rather than a pristine juvenile it was well on its way to its first-winter plumage. It was at least 200 metres away, so my camera struggled to record a prize winning shot. Nevertheless you can see that it has a grey saddle. Most of the mantle and scapular feathers have been replaced with pale grey feathers. Faint dark markings are visible on most of the scapulars, but 
these are much less distinct than those of the first-winter Yellow-egged Gulls that are present at the moment. Its coverts are plain brown with fine pale edges and the inner greater coverts are solid brown with faint buff edges. Its tertials had white thumb nail like tips, which again is different to YLG's of a similar age. Its head was white with no sign of a dark mask.

Below is a similar looking gull from December 2014.

Polish Ringed Caspian Gull (16P4) Shawell A5 Lagoons, December 2014

Another juvenile gull was causing quite a stir, as its white primaries seemed to scare the other gulls. Its a good job its not a young Herring Gull, as it might be mistaken for a 'white-winger' as an adult. 

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