Saturday, 31 January 2015

One of the best days on the tip

It takes quite a bit to impress me these days. Especially locally. Birding in the southeast of England, or at least around London, is hard work. So you take the little jewels that come to you with open arms. Today on the tip was such an event, with a whole host of interest sightings. I'll do a quick summary below, followed by some pleasant enough photos: -

Glaucous Gull - 2 juveniles present, and though suspecting there were more than one for a lot of the morning, it wasn't until mid a'noon that we had both birds on view at once. Both very similar in appearance, though one larger than the other - the smaller bird wasn't getting stuck in; preferring isolation away from the melee and not getting amongst it as Glaucous Gulls should do.
juvenile Glaucous Gull Essex 31st January 2015
Iceland Gull-type hybrid - a very dark, large bird that caused some confusion and a bit of a headache. Or at least a headache as far as white-wingers should do. Its pale eye and bill pattern evidently suggest a bird in its third calendar year, and though there is some scapular and mantle moult, its plumage is largely retarded. Add to this some brown plumage in the primaries and a Herring Gull feel to its head, it was certainly not your typical 2nd-winter nominate Iceland. In fact, even when I look at the photos now, I'm not totally convinced... my mind takes me back to a 'Kumlien's Gull' that spent the winter in Dingle harbour in 2002/03 that in the end turned out to be a Herring Gull hybrid.
2nd-winter presumed hybrid gull Essex 31st January 2015
Caspian Gull - were a sideshow for once. The regular pale-eyed adult was showing well - identified as a returning bird due to an obvious diagonal groove in its bill that runs towards the nostril. Add to this two new 2nd-winter birds, as well as two first-winters - one potentially new bird and another, much smaller bird with a short bill, that has regularly been seen since November 2014. We're probably on 26 Caspian Gulls for this winter including today, per Steve A's calculations.

Caspians Gulls Essex 31st January 2015 - adult (top) is a returning bird, then the middle two are 2nd-winters, with the bottom photo a potentially new 1st-winter.
Yellow-legged Gull - an adult and 2nd-winter; at least the 2nd-winter was a bird from the previous week.

Mediterranean Gull - two adults, both in moult and unringed. Over the next month or so, numbers will start to increase.
adult Mediterranean Gull Essex 31st January 2015
Great Black-backed Gull - the usual leucistic 2nd-winter was showing well early morning; ringed in Norway and seen regularly at the tip since December 2013. There were also a couple of other Danish ringed birds, including one 1st-winter that had been ringed as a chick in July 2014 and was near Calais as recently as 23rd January 2015.
leucistic 2nd-winter Great Black-backed Gull Essex 31st January 2015
Many thanks to Steve A and Dave A for the company. Josh J revealed his like for latinas over larids, so didn't make it.

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