Sunday 31 December 2017


Despite the Hawfinches at Burbage Common Extension being right on my doorstep, I had not really got any photos worth showing. That hasn't really changed, but I did manage to get a reasonable record shot this morning.

Hopefully one will stay until tomorrow and we can welcome everyone back for a 2018 year tick.


Friday 29 December 2017

Another Glaucous Gull Makes it a Record Year

I was quite surprised to find a snowed in Cotesbach landfill site yesterday morning.

I had a bit of fun trying to get down the lane to where I watch the gulls on the landfill. I had to wade through deep flood water, breaking the ice as I went. Eventually I was in place and many thousands of gulls were feasting on our Christmas waste.

Viewing proved a little difficult due to the bright sunlight in my face, but the white wings of an adult Glaucous Gull were unmistakable. This is the ninth Glaucous Gull at Shawell this year, which is a new record for the site.

Adult Glaucous Gull

A Red Kite drifted past and luckily I had the right tense connected to my camera.

Red Kite

My 2017 Caspian Gull tally passed the 100 mark with new 2nd and 3rd winter birds. 

Saturday 16 December 2017

Iceland Gull Again

Learning about and identifying gulls takes a great deal of time and patience. Ideally you need to travel to where the gulls are common. I've done that with quite a few species, but not yet for Iceland Gull. The latest white-winger at Shawell looks darker in the field than other juvenile Icelands I've seen. It shows quite distinct markings across the primaries on its folded wing and has quite dark underparts and well marked upperparts. The primaries are a darker buff colour compared to the usual white primaries I've seen on other juveniles..

My thoughts turned to Kumlien's Gull, but to clinch that I would need to photograph the spread upperwing. I didn't manage that on Tuesday, but with the help of a young Herring Gull today I managed to see get a glimpse (see the video). Initially it looked as though it had dark outer webs on the outer primaries, but further review of the video showed that it doesn't have the right pattern for a Kumlien's, so an interesting Iceland Gull it is in my opinion.

Juvenile Iceland Gull, Shawell, December 16th 2017

Juvenile Iceland Gull, Shawell, December 16th 2017

The Video is Best Watched at HD Quality.

Juvenile Iceland Gull, Shawell, December 16th 2017

Tuesday 12 December 2017

Iceland Gull

This morning I spotted a juvenile Iceland Gull on the southernmost lagoon at Shawell A5 Lagoons. The video below shows the bird, but as you can see the bright sunlight has bleached it. It was darker in real life and it had marking on its primaries that had me considering Kumlien's Gull. To clinch that ID I would really need to photograph it with its wings open. There is a hint on the longest primary that the outer web is darker, but this might be shadow. For now I will call it an Iceland Gull.

Best watch the video at full screen to see the pattern on the primaries although it is no where near as obvious as in the field. The bleaching is obvious when compared with the adult Herring Gull.

I had deliberately took a couple of hours off work this morning knowing there was most likely to be ice on the A5 Lagoons near Shawell. I have had a good track recorded of turning up good gulls when the ice comes.

Not surprisingly the lagoons were frozen. There was lots of gulls on the larger lagoon and the highlight was a Herring Gull ringed near Troms, Norway. J3613 was also at in 2013 and 2105. Its life-history also shows a visit to Vardo near the very top of Norway.

Three Caspian Gull were on the ice as well: 2 adults and a second-winter.

Sunday 10 December 2017

Germany to Shawell and on to Spain

During September I picked up a very obvious moulting juvenile Caspian Gull. It was obvious because it had a yellow ring on its leg with the code X477 and also because it had a bi-coloured bill. X477 was ringed on 03/06/17 at Bad Duben, Germany. It then appeared at Shawell in early September and stayed until late October.

Well it's now sunning itself down in Malaga. I'm pretty sure it would have followed the Lesser Black-backed Gulls down there.

X477 at Shawell in September 2017

Saturday 9 December 2017

Juvenile Glaucous Gull

The cold snap delivered its goods today at Cotesbach Landfill site.

There was no rubbish tipping going on, so the thousands of gull on site at dawn soon began to disperse. After the tip area become deserted I made my way to the A5 Lagoons. Luckily there were plenty of gulls there and I scored a few colour-rings. Just after lunch the dog walker arrived and you guessed it - he flushed the gulls!

I decided to have one more go at the landfill and luckily the quarry men were still working, so I was able to get back to my viewing spot. A few snow flakes were falling when I arrived and as if by magic a splendid juvenile Glaucous Gull appeared - enjoy the video.

Later in the afternoon it was picked up in the roost at Draycote Water, Warwickshire.