Thursday, 27 March 2014

One Year Old

26th March 2014 - Topsham

The Two Bird Theory is now one year old, and what better way to celebrate this minor milestone than with a nice gull?

But before I get to that here's one of my better photos of a Curlew and an action shot of a Little Egret, both taken yesterday at The Rec while I was waiting for a certain gull to fly.

Curlew - 26/3/2014 Topsham

Little Egret - 26/3/2014 Topsham
Now down to the real business of the day - a first winter/2nd calendar year* Yellow-legged Gull. I've seen this individual a couple of times over the last two days, it immediately got my interest but views were distant and brief, only this morning was I able to see it well enough to pin it down as a michahellis.

Yellow-legged Gull - 26/3/2014 Topsham
 On this view alone it already looks a good michahellis candidate, white-headed with dark eye-patch, hefty dark bill and long legs. It's now a question of checking the rest of the bird.

Yellow-legged Gull - 26/3/2014 Topsham
 Finely streaked neck, whitish body with sparse dark markings. Tertials dark centred without apparent barring or notching but very worn and faded. Scapulars broadly pale-tipped with the remains of fine dark anchor marks. No obvious replaced tertials or coverts but if present, these may by now be indistinguishable from juvenile feathers at this distance.

Yellow-legged Gull - 26/3/2014 Topsham
 Upper wing with moderately dark inner primaries, looking pale on some views but at least the outer webs are dark. Underwing quite dark and no obvious pale primary window. Upper and under tail coverts are a little heavily barred and the outer tail feathers are a little dark for classic michahellis but within the range. Taken as a whole this can't be anything else.

Yellow-legged Gull - 26/3/2014 Topsham

Yellow-legged Gull - 26/3/2014 Topsham

* Just when does a 1st Winter become a 1st Summer? I'm seriously considering adopting the plumage cycle terminology as advocated by Steve Howell. This bird would then be a first cycle Yellow-legged Gull. More on this at a later date, no doubt.

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