Monday, 17 November 2014

Long distance gull

I was able to watch the gull roost late last week for the first time in a while.  By the time I got there, most of the Black-headed Gulls had already departed, as this site is a pre-roost for this species and they fly elsewhere.  I have seen almost 1,000 birds gathering during the afternoons recently, so numbers are beginning to build.  The best bird was probably a 1st winter Med Gull that was on the spit briefly before flying off with the Black-heads.  I had seen this bird the previous day, but just in flight as it flew in from the north but flew straight through and departed to the south west.  I was keen to look through the large gulls for Yellow-legs and Caspians and it was nice to see good numbers of large gulls arriving.  Unfortunately, I failed to pick out any of the scarcer species, but there were around 500 Herring Gulls to look through, very much fewer LBBG, only about 50 birds and 10 GBBG, 9 adults and a 1st winter.

One of the Herring Gulls, an adult, had a black colour ring with white code J1281.  As always, I used the colour ringing website to trace the scheme and sent an email.  Over the weekend, I received details back from the Norwegian scheme and found that the bird had been ringed as a 4cy+ (i.e. adult) male on the 12th July 2009 at a place called Berlevåg havn, Berlevåg, Finnmark.  It had been seen again near this site in April 2013, where it was probably breeding and this was the only other sighting since.  I had to google the location to find where it was and was amazed to see that it is right at the northern end of Norway, well within the Arctic circle and over 2,600km away.  This is by far the longest distance travelled by any of the colour-ringed gulls I have recorded on the patch to date and it is really interesting to be able to discover these details relatively easily through colour rings and websites.  Here is a map showing where it was ringed:

Addendum - I have decided to include Caspian Gull on my year list on the basis of the bird seen on October 27th and 28th.  Although it showed a weird bill and slightly streaky head and undertail coverts, I could not see anything else that didn't look spot on for Caspian.  It is possible that some sort of illness/disorder may have affected it's bill colour and length, which may in turn have caused an arrest in its moult of the head. I have put it down to 'within variation' for cachinnans.  I haven't seen it since, but hope it continues to visit through the winter to see how it looks.

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