Monday, 20 February 2017

Blame the Germans!

On Saturday, I ventured out a very short distance from my home and stumbled upon a yellow-ringed gull in Rotherhithe. It was obviously a Caspian-type Gull, and therefore worthy of some bread baiting - and I knew by its code X007 that it was from that dreaded German colony. In fact, this is our fourth German 'Caspian Gull' in Central London this winter and they're all on a sliding scale of not exactly classic, whether it be the scapular pattern, tertials, greater-coverts or structure. And this lad was no exception: -

hybrid Caspian x Herring Gull X007 Rotherhithe, London 18th February 2017
It was initially on the beach by the Hilton Hotel and then moved a few hundred yards east to Durand's Wharf where Richard Page-Jones managed to catch up with it too. In flight, it fitted the Caspian bill in several respects with an even black-banded tail and uppertail coverts just about fine for the species; as was the typical nape streaking contrasting with the pale head. I could also pick it up on call, very guttural and Caspian-like (though it never did the albatross posture). However, the bill itself was relatively short while the underwing coverts were fairly dark and intricately barred. On the deck, the second generation scapulars had fairly argenteus-like anchors while the greater-coverts were nicely notched with no obvious dark bases. So all in all, this is a really obvious Caspian x Herring Gull hybrid: -

hybrid Caspian x Herring Gull X007 Rotherhithe, London 18th February 2017
It was ringed as a chick at Laussig to the northeast of Leipzig, Germany on 7th June 2016 and then seen in The Netherlands at Katwijk on 31st August 2016, Zantmotor on 16th September 2016 and then again at Katwijk on 5th October 2016 before being seen at Crayford Marshes, Kent on 23rd January 2017.

On another note, this was the 25th Caspian-type Gull Jamie, Dante and I have had in the three mile zone from Rotherhithe east to Thames Barrier Park since late September. Pretty special to have these beasts from the east essentially on my doorstep these days; a sure sign of westward expansion, reaping the rewards of less tip action and a couple of extra pairs of eyes searching. With the exception of Dungeness, this has probably been the best area for Casps in Britain this winter!

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