Wednesday 6 August 2014

More Yellow-legged Gull...and why not?

6th August 2014 - Topsham

The Ross's Gull is gone it seems, I hope it may still be around as it would be great to see it finish moult. The Exe Estuary's purple patch continues though with Matt Knott's spectacular find of a Caspian Tern at Exmouth yesterday. For Matt's account see his blog at birding exmouth, with the sequel here. Chris Townend also got some 'record shots'. A big thank you to Matt for the texts/calls and to Chris for the scope views. I got there just in time to see it fly up river, after a further sighting at Exmouth later that afternoon it appears to have moved on.

That doesn't mean that as I cycled down to the Rec this morning I didn't entertain at least a small hope that a huge red-billed tern might be sitting out there on the shingle waiting for me. Needless to say, the anticipated tern had other ideas and failed to show.

As some form of compensation I did find another Yellow-legged Gull. One of this year's brood newly arrived from further south, though exactly where is an interesting question.

Here's how it first looked, preening on the water's edge and showing bright white upper tail coverts and rump, with a black tail band, narrowing to the outer tail feathers and with a lot of clean white on the outer web of R6.

Yellow-legged Gull juv-1W 6/8/2014 Topsham
Yellow-legged Gull juv-1W 6/8/2014 Topsham
Preening continued, scapulars with simple pale fringes, reasonably worn and with one or two second generation feathers appearing. Tertials also thinly fringed, white not reaching greater coverts and quite worn at the tips. You might say it's no longer in full juvenile plumage but is a bird moulting to first winter plumage, maybe it's simpler to call it 1st cycle.

Yellow-legged Gull juv-1W 6/8/2014 Topsham
With juvenile Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls for comparison, and on it's own.

Yellow-legged Gull juv-1W (with LBBG left and HG right) 6/8/2014 Topsham

Yellow-legged Gull juv-1W 6/8/2014 Topsham

Yellow-legged Gull juv-1W 6/8/2014 Topsham
And the spread wing? Nice and dark with pale only on the inner webs of the inner primaries.

Yellow-legged Gull juv-1W (with HG left) 6/8/2014 Topsham

Yellow-legged Gull juv-1W 6/8/2014 Topsham

 It's perhaps a little fresher and less worn than is typical of a Mediterranean bird in August, I wonder if it's from an Iberian population - supposedly later fledging and therefore less advanced?

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