Thursday 25 July 2013

Juvenile michahellis finally arrives

23rd July 2013 - Exeter Quay

I was wondering when the first one would show up. In fact, I was starting to think that my rudimentary gull identification skills were leading me to miss them among the juvenile Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. So, after weeks of fruitlessly staring into the afternoon sun at Topsham Recreation Ground, I take Carolyn's advice and hop on my bike for the short ride into Exeter - maybe she thinks I could do with the exercise? Within minutes of arriving at the Quay I've got one.

It's a nice big bird with a fairly hefty bill, neat and contrasting scapulars and coverts and classic thin white 'thumbnail' tips to the tertials. The belly is white and fairly unmarked and the outer greater coverts get darker at the base.

After being quite unpleasant towards the other gulls (another ID clue) it eventually flew. The wings shows dark inner primaries (and a good dark wedge on the outer greater coverts); the black tail band is broad in the centre and narrows outwards while the upper tail coverts and rump are bright white with only a few dark spots. The underwing is well marked but nowhere near as dark as a Lesser Black-backed.

Now I could do with a few more, or even a nice fresh, photographable Caspian Gull...

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