Thursday 25 February 2016

Scandinavian Herring Gull

25th February 2016 - Topsham

Here's a couple of likely larids from today's visit to Topsham Rec (I originally thought there were three but you'll be relieved to hear that after checking my photos I've whittled them down to two).

Gull A - 25/2/2016 Topsham

Gull A - 25/2/2016 Topsham

Gull A: distinctly darker grey above than argenteus Herring Gulls alongside, but not dark enough for graellsii LBB and the pink legs rule out michahellis of course. So what about argentatus HG? Well from some angles it just looked too dark and those legs looked a little odd, a hint of yellow to the pink, perhaps? Here's the spread wing, not helping at all.

Gull A - 25/2/2016 Topsham

Lots of white at the tips of P9 and P10 looks good for argentatus but I really don't like the amount of black on P8 and P9 or the way it bleeds onto the inner web. Looking decidedly iffy now I think. In fact this one reminds me of a bird I've seen here before, and thought most likely a hybrid Herring x LBB or some subsequent generation of.

And now to Gull B: similar in some ways to A but the primary pattern on this is fine for argentatus.

Scandinavian Herring Gull - 25/2/2016 Topsham

Scandinavian Herring Gull - 25/2/2016 Topsham

Also pink-legged and the back a similar shade of grey and clearly darker than adjacent argenteus. A slightly smaller individual maybe. The spread wing shows a quite different pattern to A.

Scandinavian Herring Gull - 25/2/2016 Topsham

I don't see a lot wrong with that for argentatus, Big white P10 tip and proper mirror on P9, the pattern of black on P6 - P9 looks good with fairly extensive grey tongues and P5 has just the tiniest of black spots on the outer web. This is surely the bird I saw for a few seconds yesterday at Exeter Quay?

Tuesday 23 February 2016

Latvian Black-headed Gull

23rd February 2016 - Exeter Quay

As I keep saying (to anyone who'll listen), the great thing about gulls is that there's always some around. And even if what's on offer is just common stuff like Black-headed and Herring Gulls, there's still a chance of finding ringed birds. It does help if the ring is bright plastic with big numbers or letter but even small metal rings can sometimes be read if you can get close enough. Places like Exeter Quay, where gulls expect to be fed, is perfect.

Black-headed Gull - 23/2/2016 Exeter Quay
It took a few minutes of stalking from different angles to get the full code - LATVIA - RIGA - S 349. Details sent, awaiting reply.

Now if only it had been a small dark Lesser Black-backed...

Friday 5 February 2016

Faint signs of life in the blog yet...

2nd February 2016 - Somewhere in the Midlands

It's symptomatic of the state of the birding around here right now that not only is this my first post of 2016 but that I had to travel a couple of hundred miles to find anything I felt like writing about.

Tuesday found myself and Martin Elliott in Tring talking with Hadoram Shirihai about our Tubenoses/Seabirds books projects. On Wednesday we spent several hours standing in a hedge by the A5 in Leicstershire; HGVs belting along behind us and a few hundred LWHGs on a pool in front of us. The occasional sleet shower wasn't too bad but the standing still was chilling - at least that's one excuse for the poor photos.

Highlights were at least two 1st winter Caspians but a couple of Yellow-legs and hundreds of argentatus Herring Gulls would have made it all worth while on their own.

Caspian Gull 1W - Shawell, Leics. 3/2/2016

Caspian Gull 1W - Shawell, Leics. 3/2/2016

Caspian Gull 1W - Shawell, Leics. 3/2/2016 - typically bolshy with the other gulls, almost a classic ID feature.

Caspian Gull 1W - Shawell, Leics. 3/2/2016 - a real beauty but the first bird was even smarter.

Herring Gull argentatus - Shawell, Leics. 3/2/2016 - classic primary pattern.

Herring Gull argentatus - Shawell, Leics. 3/2/2016 - with Lesser Black-backed intermedius.

Herring Gull argentatus - Shawell, Leics. 3/2/2016 - maybe my photo processing has made these darker than necessary but they really did look strikingly different to typical argenteus, some approaching graellsii in shade. Rarer than Caspian in Devon but is that just observer bias?