Saturday, 18 February 2017

Last day in the Newfoundland snow

Well, overnight Tuesday into Wednesday it didn't stop snowing. And with this being our last full day it was another one where a walk to Quidi Vidi Lake was all that could be done - there must have been another couple of feet of snow that had fallen! We set out quite late, as the weather was meant to abate as the day went on. And with the snow, there were a lot more gulls present on the lake - pretty impressive numbers, especially of American Herring Gulls.
adult American Herring Gull Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
We started briefly at the west end, by Rennies River, where there was a Common Gull present among the loafing Kumlien's and American Herring Gulls. This was presumably a different bird, as when we walked the half mile to the Virginia River outflow the usual ringed Common Gull was present too along with its Ring-billed Gull friend.
juvenile Kumlien's Gull with American Herring and Great Black-backed Gulls Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
With a bit more open water at Virginia River outflow, the gulls were making the most of it - a good suite of Kumlien's Gulls, about twenty Glaucous Gulls and at least a thousand American Herring Gulls about. And then at 12.30pm, this guy showed up for ten minutes and had a preen and bathe before heading off...
adult 'Yellow-legged Gull' Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
This is the bird that people have been coming to see - a Yellow-legged Gull Newfoundland-style. When I first picked the bird up, I shouted to Richard 'I've got this Yellow-legged Gull thing but it looks s**t to me'. And that is how I left it; apparently the large mirror to P10 and P4 markings make it an atlantis which is fine when it comes to primary markings. However, what isn't fine is structurally it felt just like a Lesser Black-backed Gull with an elongated, streamlined jizz and the bill was meak and meagre, never once giving an impression of a Yellow-legged Gull to me - not even a female. Add to this the piercing white iris, overly dark upperparts and the fact it was obviously smaller than the American Herrings around it.
adult 'Yellow-legged Gull' Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
Now I've seen things the other way around - American Herring Gulls among atlantis Yellow-legged Gulls in the Azores as well as an adult American Herring Gull among Portuguese Yellow-legged Gulls as recently as December last year. And size wise, there isn't really a significant difference - unlike this bird. I saw the Portimao 'American Herring Gull' (with tepid yellow legs) too late last year, again with Yellow-legged Gulls, but that's a different story altogether. So despite some rather forceful replies from across the pond on this issue vehemently stating it's an atlantis Yellow-legged Gull, private correspondence from top European gullers backs up my opinion on this bird - that it really isn't what you'd expect for a Yellow-legged Gull, especially in a vagrancy context.
juvenile Glaucous Gull Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
adult Kumlien's Gull Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
adult Kumlien's Gull Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
adult Kumlien's Gull Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
adult Kumlien's Gull Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
juvenile Kumlien's Gull Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
juvenile Kumlien's Gull Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
juvenile Kumlien's Gull Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
juvenile Kumlien's Gull Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
So that was that. A thoroughly enjoyable trip, characterised by gulls and the white stuff. We headed to the airport for our scheduled flight just after midnight. As luck would have it, with two days of cancelled flights, ours was only the second flight to leave St. John's since early Tuesday morning and we got back safe and sound into London on time. And then it was straight out to Thames Barrier Park... where just four Yellow-legged Gulls and a regular Norwegian-ringed Common Gull greeted me.
hybrid Black Duck x Mallard Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
Black Duck Quidi Vidi Lake, Newfoundland 15th February 2017
I'll do some more detailed posts on Kumlien's Gulls if the manicness of school starting on Monday doesn't get in the way.
adult Kumlien's Gulls St. John's, Newfoundland 15th February 2017

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