Saturday, 6 December 2014

A trio of Casps in crisp conditions

I think that cold, clear winter days are my favourite conditions for birding in southeast England. Often with harsher frosts elsewhere, you tend to get the odd cold weather movement down here. And with a decent frost overnight, while trying to scrape the Land Rover, decent numbers of Lapwings were passing overhead.

Steve and I shared the tip today with the NTGG, who managed a couple of big catches ringing a high total of 567 gulls. The gulls for us though started relatively slowly, with just a couple of Med Gulls of note from our first position. It's remarkable what a slight shift in position can do, and it didn't take long for things to start happening, initially with this showy adult Yellow-legged Gull. This was one of three seen, along with a 2nd-winter and 1st-winter.
adult Yellow-legged Gull 6th December 2014
There were a lot fewer gull rings compared to last weekend, suggesting a turnover of birds with the cold weather. Common Gull numbers were up too, often an indicator species as birds only really flood onto the tip when their normal fields are frosted over. About 5 Med Gulls were seen in total, all adults apart from one 1st-winter bird.

It took time, but it did happen, with three Caspian Gulls seen on the tip today. There was a showy 1st-winter bird that remained faithful to a specific area of crap for an hour or so. Quite aggressive, it was seen to chase off intruders as well seen regularly to long call - I'd put the video I took up here if I knew how!

1st-winter Caspian Gull (bird 1) 6th December 2014
A second Caspian Gull - a 2nd-winter - appeared, albeit briefly, and papping it before it headed off revealed that it was green-ringed - presumably a bird from eastern Germany; though unfortunately, it seems like it was just a bit too distant for the ring to be read.
2nd-winter Caspian Gull 6th December 2014. A green-ringed bird, but perhaps just a bit too far for the code to be read with any certainty.
As we came off the tip, there was an area of rubbish where a load of gulls were scrounging while it was being compacted, and in this small group was the third Caspian Gull of the day - another 1st-winter. Slightly larger than the showy individual above.

1st-winter Caspian Gull (bird 2) 6th December 2014.
Finally, there was a leucistic Herring Gull present too - a bit of a Glaucous Gull imposter, though it seems as though this bird was in fact different to a juvenile Glaucous Gull reported nearby during the week.
leucistic Herring Gull 6th December 2014. Very difficult to age leucistic birds, as I learnt last year as a pale iris doesn't necessarily mean this bird isn't a first-winter.

No comments:

Post a Comment