Saturday, 3 January 2015

First trip to the tip in 2015 - Glaucous Gull, Caspian Gulls and more

What a grim day for weather! I woke up this morning and it was pouring down and dark - and left the tip at midday and it was pouring down and almost dark. In between, the gulls were pretty good though although another flat tyre (fourth of the winter) meant that we had to leave the tip early again.

There were a few highlights, and I guess to most the juvenile Glaucous Gull would be the best bird seen - only my second on the tip as they're pretty scarce here in the southeast these days.
juvenile Glaucous Gull on the tip 3rd January 2015
For me, though, I was probably happiest with the return of an even whiter gull. Now in its second winter, and making its first showing at the tip this winter, Great Black-backed Gull J5493 put on a show. I first saw this bird on 21st December 2013 and it was present on the tip a fair number of times up until the end of March 2014 when it looked like this. Bar a little bit of paleness at the bill tip, it pretty much looks the same as it did when I last saw it. Always interesting to see how these leucistic birds mature through time, and glad to see it made it through its first winter too!
2nd-winter Great Black-backed Gull J5493 on the tip 3rd January 2015
There were also three Caspian Gulls present - a third-winter and first-winter present on the track as soon as we were on the tip, and then a distinctive petit first-winter that I'd seen previously on 15th November 2014.
1st-winter Caspian Gull on the tip 3rd January 2015. A distinctive, small individual.
More freaks were about on the tip too, including a leucistic Herring Gull and a couple of presumed hybrid birds - the regular bird that has been present since November and a smaller, darker bird below: -
gull sp. - potentially a Herring Gull x Glaucous Gull hybrid or an aberrant Herring Gull. Note the lack of moult in the scapulars indicative of a northern origin. This bird was quite small too.
The light really was grim, and with three Yellow-legged Gulls and a couple of Med Gulls, that was the lot before we had to retreat back with our freshly flattened tyre. With a grim cold, and the increasingly grim weather, the rest of the day was spent relaxing with the hope that tomorrow's weather will be better.

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