Monday, 23 June 2014

'Caspian' Gull revisited

22nd June 2014 - Topsham

As I'd hoped, our mystery gull turned up again, this time under rather more favourable viewing conditions at Topsham Rec. The same slightly odd shape and the same wing pattern as the BGM bird of Friday, and no real surprise, it's a Herring Gull.

Herring Gull 2nd Summer/3cy 22/6/2014 - Topsham

Herring Gull 2nd Summer/3cy 22/6/2014 - Topsham

Herring Gull 2nd Summer/3cy 22/6/2014 - Topsham
The bill is quite hefty and with a strong gonys. The primary projection is standard Herring Gull length and the legs don't look that thin after all. The breast is an odd shape for Herring but this may be due to a full crop, or perhaps it's eaten something it shouldn't have. The mantle is definitely too pale for cachinnans and there are a few remaining 2nd winter/3rd generation scapulars showing a Herring type anchor mark pattern. The median coverts are fresh (still with buff-brown ground colour) so, if I've interpreted its age correctly, must be recently grown 3rd generation. They do have the appearance though of 2nd generation feathers (which are more usually plain grey at this stage) but this may be down to the health/hormonal condition of the bird? The iris, although rather darker than usual for this age argenteus, is starting to lighten.

Apart from a slightly odd shape (still not right for Caspian though) and unusual median coverts it probably wouldn't draw a second glance if seen well. I can't quite believe how much time I've spent on it, I suppose once it was claimed as a Caspian (still don't know who by) I really wanted to figure out: is it? and if not, why not? It's all educational, after all.

Thanks to Matt Knott and Gavin Haig for their comments on Friday's appearance.


  1. Hi Tim,

    Well done for perservering on the bird! It certainly does appear to have an odd jizz, but your photos do help with seeing the finer details of the bird, particularly the gonys and the legs as you already mention.
    Thanks for your comments on Madeira - I meant to say, if my photos are of any help/use to your latest illustarting project,Iam more thanhappy to send you any.......

  2. Hi Chris,

    Thanks and yes I'd really appreciate seeing more of your Madeira photos, any Pterodromas and Madeiran/Band-rumped SP's in particular would be very helpful. You've got my email address I think.