Monday, 5 September 2016

Another tasty Yellow-legged Gull at The Rec

4th September 2016 - Topsham


If walking the dog and staring at gulls counts as effort, I've been putting some in and seeing good numbers of big gulls at the Rec in recent weeks - someone's got to do it. The resident hybrid, a couple of colour-rings and a nice intermedius Lesser Black-backed have helped to pas the time but there's been no more michahellis since my first juv of the year on 13th August. I thought it was about time I had another and today was the day. This particular stunner behaved impeccably, preening, flying around and loafing; generally showing off and shouting; "look at me, I'm special!"

Yellow-legged Gull 1st winter - 4/9/2016 Topsham Rec
It stood out immediately: a slim, long-winged and small-headed bird and so presumably a female; a striking white head with a strongly-marked neck, breast and flanks on a white background; at the back end a clean white vent and undertail and it's obvious from just this view that the outer tail feathers are largely white. There's a lot of new moulted scapulars while the wing coverts and the tertials are quite worn - in contrast Herring and Lesser Black-backed juvs are still looking pretty fresh.

Yellow-legged Gull 1st winter - 4/9/2016 Topsham Rec
Classic michahellis tail pattern and arguably quite safely identifiable on this view alone.

Yellow-legged Gull 1st winter - 4/9/2016 Topsham Rec
 A better view of those moulted scapulars with thin dark anchor subterminal anchor marks, just a few juvenile scaps left and contrasting with the dark wing - thin fringes to coverts mostly worn off now.

Yellow-legged Gull 1st winter - 4/9/2016 Topsham Rec
 That classic tail pattern again - sharp black band narrowing at sides contrasting with stark white base and upper tail coverts and rump. The inner primaries only a little paler than the outers and solidly dark outer greater coverts.

Yellow-legged Gull 1st winter - 4/9/2016 Topsham Rec
 Tail pattern just as marked from below.

Yellow-legged Gull 1st winter - 4/9/2016 Topsham Rec

Yellow-legged Gull 1st winter - 4/9/2016 Topsham Rec

Yellow-legged Gull 1st winter - 4/9/2016 Topsham Rec

Yellow-legged Gull 1st winter - 4/9/2016 Topsham Rec
I don't expect it will reappear, they hardly ever do, and without a colour ring there's no way of telling where it came from - the Med, Central/Eastern Europe or perhaps it's a lusitanius from Portugal?

OK, it's not a rarity (but a lot scarcer in Devon than 'up country') but it'll do til the real rarity gets here.

2 comments:

  1. Hi Tim - great photos of an absolutely stunning bird. I really hope it pops up down this end of the river. All the best.
    Matt

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  2. Thanks Matt, sadly probably long gone, no sign today, as you know they don't tend to stick around these parts long. cheers, Tim

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