Thursday, 26 November 2015

Away with the gulls again

26th November 2015 - Topsham


Gulls never let you down. When there's nothing else about there's always a few gulls to look through and, not surprisingly, the more you look, the more you see. Certainly, having just a handful of regular species to scan through does tend to concentrate the mind, even one as prone to wander as mine.

So, today I made my usual low tide visit to Topsham Rec and as usual there's a couple of hundred Black-heads, fifty or so Herring, a dozen Common, a handful of Lesser Black-backed and single Great Black-backed. After a superficial scan for anything really obviously unusual. i.e. rare, I picked out an adult Med Gull, a colour-ringed bird (white 34K4) with a long history (see previous post). It landed near another adult, this one did not co-operate but spent all the time sleeping (Med Gulls tend to be rather inactive I've noticed). While checking my photos later I noticed it too was colour-ringed - red, right tarsus (so probably a Polish bird) - and this has been around on and off for a week though I've yet to read the code.

Mediterranean Gull 34K4 >17cy - 26/11/2015 Topsham

Mediterranean Gull 34K4 >17cy - 26/11/2015 Topsham

Mediterranean Gulls - 34K4 at back, red c-r taking it easy - 26/11/2015 Topsham

Now, folks, it's time for my occasional feature - the Topsham Mystery Gull - no prizes, in fact probably no definite solutions.

Further up the river the big gulls have their own bathing and loafing area. A quick scan produced nothing but the usual Herring Gulls and four LBB but then I noticed this slightly different individual. Light conditions were not great and the bird was not close - the usual excuses, I know - but the main points are obvious.

Larus sp. ad (it's the one at the back) - 26/11/2015 Topsham
 It's clearly darker grey than the 'normal' argenteus HG and the legs look a bit different too, not quite so pink maybe. I started thinking nominate argentatus but the mantle looks a little too dark and the tone is odd, it should be a bluer grey. A view of the spread primaries would help so I waited for it to fly.

Larus sp. ad - 26/11/2015 Topsham

Larus sp. ad - 26/11/2015 Topsham

Not looking too good now, is it? The white mirrors on P9 and P10 are just about OK for argentatus (also fine for argenteus) but the amount of black is not ideal. Another odd thing is irregular shape of the black areas plus they seem to be a little paler on P8-10, almost like something went wrong in pigment production, like the bird couldn't decide quite what it wanted to be. Maybe it's an odd argentatus, maybe it'll have to go down as another hybrid?

As ever, comments welcome.

No comments:

Post a Comment