Saturday, 21 December 2013

Freaks on the tip in foul weather

It doesn't look like we're in for a white Christmas this year. On the tip today, the first of potentially three Atlantic lows ripped through making conditions rather unpleasant - though at least I was dry unlike all the gulls I was watching. Each week, the tipping position and number of dust carts coming in is different. Today, the position wasn't ideal for getting close but with Christmas coming up and time ticking on, there were a lot of dust carts coming in so still plenty of nosh for the gulls.

I rarely leave without something interesting happening, and today was no exception. Modern technology means that if you know the correct channels, in some cases, it's possible to get information on your ringed gulls immediately. That is, if they're Norwegian courtesy of Ringmerking...

first-winter Great Black-backed Gull - black ringed J5493
This freak of a first-winter Great Black-backed Gull was ringed as a chick on the south coast of Norway near Mandar, Vest-Agder on 20th June 2013 (and still in the area on 30th July). One of three chicks from normally pigmented parents, it and one sibling are leucistic while the third chick is normally pigmented - check out the shots from of the brood here and here. Interesting to note how its eye is already pale despite its proven age. Shows you how little relevance iris colour may be when it comes to ageing leucistic birds. Anyway, no tip visit is complete without a bit of Caspian Gull action - and two birds, a second-winter and first-winter, were seen today. Both bizarrely were green-ringed: -
2nd-winter Caspian Gull XCDD - ringed in Lausitz, Germany (close to the Polish border) in a mixed colony where Caspian Gulls dominate.
1st-winter Caspian Gull - green-ringed though too distant for combination to be read easily. Either a German or a Polish bird.
With the poor weather and tipping position, I only managed to read 11 rings today - originating from Germany, Belgium, Norway and eight locally ringed NTGG birds.

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