Monthly Archives: December 2010

Tundra Bean Goose -find

Slimbridge Ducks, Geese and Swans

At Slimbridge  (Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust) yesterday. Had an ace day thanks to James Lees, reserve warden. Bumper year there for Russian White-fronted Geese, we saw over 600 birds, 37% of which first winters. James picked out a  Tundra Bean Goose (ssp. rossicus)– excellent.  Joined then by senior warden Martin McGill, Simon Mackie and 2 ‘bird racers from BBC Bristol- Mike Dilger (off the telly- The BBC’s  ‘One Show’ as well as Springwatch and Autumnwatch) and Ed Drewitt.

Also had new-in 2nd winter (yearling) Bewick’s Swan named ‘Garner’, close couple of young male Greater Scaup, learnt more about wild goose calls and lot more which I will blog about when I get chance! (I have mystery duck seen yesterday which I will post as New Year’s day Quiz– in case any one bored!)

For now the newly arrived Tundra Bean Goose and our little birding crew:

Adult Tundra Bean Goose. Slimbridge WWT 30 Dec 2010 James Lees. Rather short deep-based bill with an obvious forehead. The white fringed tertials were an easy ‘pick-out- of- the- flock feature’.

In comparison:

Taiga Bean Goose ssp. fabalis. This old adult has been in the Slimbridge collection a long time. Always a little wary of the purity of collection birds, this one nevertheless appears to have  the longer, slimmer looking bill with little more orange that marks out a Western Taiga Bean.

Dilger knicks my ‘scope to see the adult Pink-footed Geese- one of 2 wild Pink-feet in the area.

Left to right Martin McGill, Ed Drewitt, Mike Dilger, James Lees and MG. Photo kindly taken by Simon Mackie. Thanks guys- lots of fun!

Happy New Year -here’s to 2011!!

Reeve’s Pheasant near Harrogate

North Yorkshire

Great friend of mine, Si Ross was out cycling yesterday. Not especially a birder but very keen cyclist and photographer sent me the photo below, wondering what it was. Quick eyes will recognize a male Reeve’s Pheasant. It’s not on the British list, but I think is/was Category C in France. Anyway pretty stunning bird. I have seen one in France but never in UK. Maybe locals know about it, maybe not? In case anyone in the area is interested, here’s the bird and where it was seen.





100,000 Thanks

Milestone passed

We past 100,000 views yesterday on the Birding Frontiers blog. We started just over 4 months ago, and it’s been lots of fun. Just wanted to say thanks for tuning in and for all kinds of great feedback and input.

Happy New Year and hope you have a great 2011


Blue-ringed intermedius LBB Gull

From Norway


Ringed as a pullus (chick) on an island (Rauna) off southern Norway in 1999. Wintering currently in Sheffield area. More info:

Thanks to Ed Mackrill, Mark Golley and Peter Adriaens.

CR-Code Dark blue ring with white code: JNA5
Ringing Centre Stavanger Museum (Norway)
Ring number 4233667
Species Lesser Black-backed Gull (intermedius)  Larus fuscus intermedius
Status Ringing data
Date 02.07 1999 (–:–) Accurate to the day
Place Rauna, Farsund, Vest-Agder, Norway
58°03’33″N 006°40’10″E Map Accurate to the given coordinates
Sex Unknown
Age Pullus

Caspian Gull – hybrid?

One to learn from

Sometimes the most educational birds are also not straightforward to identify. Found this bird couple of days ago. Up to 250 large gull  gathered by mid afternoon on metal roofs, some bathing in the River Don. Many northern ‘argentatus’ Herring Gulls, fewer GBB Gulls and a handful of Lesser Black-backs. From a distance it had a good look of Caspian about it. A large bird, longer-winged and more upright in stance. The head looked small in comparison with body and rather thinner bill. Main feature in conjunction with structural elements was a spotted look to the immature upperparts. There is ‘something’ about Caspian in the spotted character, especially on some 2nd winter types. Hard to explain exactly  why.

So drove closer.  A little less impressive closer up. The legs rather short and bright and the underparts also had bit more streaking below than you would ideally want. Not a ‘slam-dunk’ 2nd winter Caspian then.

Feeling a little rusty I contacted some Caspian-loving friends. All concurred, not confident it’s a pure bird – perhaps argentatus X cachinanns hybrid.

Caspian features I see:

The head and bill looks good, white-headed, rather slender (for size) parallel-sided bill with darkish tip and lovely dark line bleeding back towards bill base. White head nestled in coarse lower nape streaking.

Upperparts ‘spotting’ ; mix of grey feathering with cream tipped , darker spotted feathers, couple of adult grey median coverts. tertials solid dark centre apart from ‘adult grey’ smaller, upper tertial(s) – the latter a classic Caspian combo, rather longer blackish primaries (but no pale mirror on p10- very common on 2nd winter Caspian).

Here it is – see what you think. Not great photos- flew off in large group shortly after- no chance to see tail pattern and underwings. Not present yesterday. Caspian Gulls are RARE in Yorkshire- so we need to get them right…

With thanks to Brian S, Ian Lew, Nic H and Chris G for keeping me on the right track!

Scandinavian Gulls

Blue-ringed LBB and some Argies.

Here a few photos of gulls seen today near my house. One a blue-ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull. White lettering on blue darvic (kind of Royal Blue). Ring number:  JNA5

Where is it from? Iceland, the Severn or somewhere else? I haven’t found out yet. Whose ringing scheme is this? Any takers?

Scandinavian Herring Gull

3 beefy Northern argentatus; a first winter, a second winter (type) (added later: Peter Adriaens says its 3rd winter on prominent white primary tips) and an adult. The adult hasn’t finished growing outermost primaries- and its Christmas already!