Saturday 28 November 2015

A Visitor From Finland and Three Caspian Gulls

Once again it was bitter cold at Cotesbach Landfill site, as the wind was cold and it had gained momentum over the open spaces of the quarry. One of the first birds I saw this morning was the wing-tagged Red Kite that was present at the site during the summer. He looked much smarter now that his old worn out feathers have been replaced with a new set.

I positioned myself in a spot that overlooks a mound of earth that the gulls like to rest on and I wasn't to be disappointed. I managed to read 12 colour-rings mostly on Herring Gulls. Much to my surprise, I re-found the Finnish colour-ringed Herring Gull that I first saw in 2014 was back in the area. I can't remember noticing that it had yellow legs last time, but it legs were very yellow compared to the pink legs of the other Herring Gulls close by. It also had a large white tip to its longest primary - another feature of omissus.

Herring Gull C02CN, Cotesbach Landfill Site - Ringed at Ruovesi, Pirkanmaa (61°51'N 23°52'E)
Finland as an Adult on 29/05/2007

Amongst the gulls at the tip were a couple of Caspian Gulls, a fourth-winter seen previously and a new first-winter. At the A5 Lagoons a third-winter graced the bank between the lagoons. At the time it looked really good, but maybe it has a hint of Herring Gull about it. As Ronald Klien has just said "Our former description (Klein & Gruber 1997 in Limicola) was written, before the Central European mishmash began".

Third-Winter Caspian Gull (with maybe a hint of Herring Gull), Shawell A5 Lagoons, 28/11/15

Digiscoping can be difficult at the landfill site due to the wind and the gulls can be distant. The gulls are spread out across a wide area as the site is a massive sand quarry and a landfill site. I can get close to the gulls near the tipping area, but on sunny days I am staring straight into the sun and it was quite sunny first thing. That said I usually manage to at least get a record shot. What I can't do is compete with the super pictures Michael Southcott and the boys are getting down at Dungeness in Kent.

I have seen two new first-winters this week plus the red colour-ringed first winter (10P6) that I saw earlier in the month. The un-ringed ones had differences in the greater coverts, so I am confident they are different gulls. Caspian Gull are real shape changers - one minute they can look sleek, long winged, long legged, small headed and long narrow billed, but the next dumpy, shorter winged etc.

First-Winter Caspian Gull, Cotesbach LF Site, 28/11/15

As you can see this one has nice dark brown Greater Coverts with pale tips to just the outer ones. Compare this to the one below that I saw on 25/11/15. That one had more white in the Greater Coverts and had replaced more of its Median Coverts. Both smart looking gulls, which sadly the photos don't do justice to. They looked much better through my scope honest.Both images are screen photos from Shacky videos.

First-winter Caspian Gull, Cotesbach LF Site, 25/11/15

The sub-adult below appears to be a new one, as I've compared it to the others I've seen lately and it appears to be different. The only suggestion it isn't an adult was a small dark mark on one of the tertials and its coverts didn't quite look right for a full adult.

Sub-Adult Caspian Gull, Cotesbach LF Site, 28/11/15


  1. Another great post on Gulls in Leicestershire Carl, I'm certainly trying to learn from them. I will try and join you one of these weekends if that would be ok.

  2. No Problem, Colin.
    Just let me know when you fancy coming over. Cheers,