Wednesday, 2 March 2016

Interesting Gull

2nd March - well after the pleasant day on Monday, the brief period I was out today was very wintery, with squally showers and a strong, cold wind.

I managed to add Grey Wagtail to my year list at last - a female flew past the point and landed in overhanging willows.  Usually fairly common here, but surprisingly scarce so far this year.  A nice Lesser Redpoll was also feeding on the seeds of willow herb near the bench.

In my short visit, I decided to watch the gulls.  There were quite a few large gulls around too mid afternoon, which is better than normal.  Most of these were immature Herring Gulls and mostly 1st winter and they were still coming in.  I picked out a large, presumed male, 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull - a bit of a brute, just before a squally sleet shower came through and pushed many of the big gulls over to the south side on the water.  It showed a nice black tail band in flight.  Just as the sleet stopped, I picked out this interesting gull on the end of the spit.  To all intents and purposes, it looks spot on for a 1st winter Caspian Gull except that it has rather a lot of head streaking: fine streaking over the crown and more obvious streaking around the eye and ear coverts.  I do wonder about birds like this - does the head streaking point to a hybrid element, or might it be viewed as 'within variation', when all the other visible features look spot on.  Having said that, I did not have time to see if the under wing was predominantly white, so this feature may or may not have been anomalous.  All in all, a good looking bird though.

I also picked out five colour ringed birds, the most interesting of which was a Dutch ringed Black-headed Gull.  This follows on from a Polish ringed Black-headed Gull that I found on the 22nd, which had been in Southampton on the 5th - I find the movement of these birds fascinating.

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