Monthly Archives: February 2011

Next Weekend

Upcoming Events

Looking forward to meeting people! If you are booked on one of the ‘Gull Days’ or will be at the evening talk with the Leicester and Rutland Ornithological Society on 4th March– look forward to seeing you there – ALL WELCOME!

4th March. Albert Village Lake, Leicester, Gull Masterclass 10am- 4pm

Leicester and Rutland Ornithological Society:

Friday 4th March: Evening Talk, 7:30 pm.

The Church Lounge at Oadby Trinity Methodist Church, Harborough Road, (off the central car park) Oadby Leicester LE2 4LA (click here for map), details:

5th March, Rainham Marshes, London, Gull Masterclass 10am- 4pm

Having seen the Oriental Turtle Dove on Monday we carried on to Rainham. Failed to see the Slaty-Backed Gull- but several Yellow -legged Gulls of different ages and at least one Caspian Gull spiced up the day.

2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull, Rainham Tip. 21st feb 2011. Cracking photo by Dominic Mitchell

Dominic’s blog:

Considerably less good photo of a particularly streaky 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull (taken by me) on  the same day.


another juv. Thayer’s in Ireland?

Liscannor, Co Clare

John Murphy sent these distant shots of a juvenile Thayer’s type Gull at Liscannor, Co Clare taken on 1st February 2011. It’s on the other side of Galway Bay from the bird at Rosseveal, Co. Galway.  It was only seen on the one occasion.

Looks basically like a Thayer’s Gull to me. Tail little odd-looking (dark and looking more ‘distinct band’ than some). The dark band does ‘bleed’ into the white of rest of the tail. I am hyper aware of the danger of misread information due to photo artifacts on poor blurry images, so these are my impression but they could change with much better pics! So is it the same bird at Rossaveal, something else, or are there 2 juv Thayer’s in Galway Bay? Only better photos especially of the first could establish that unequivocally.

Oriental Turtle Dove

1st winter Rainbow Bird

Very enjoyable day out with Roy and Ray. The Oriental Turtle Dove performed admirably, despite somewhat inclement weather. With a rainbow-like set of colours over its plumage, this stunning bird starlit Steve’s garden in Chipping Norton (from another v.grateful birder- thanks Steve and family). This one’s an Oriental Turtle Dove form orientalis. The other vagrant form is meena ‘Rufous Turtle Dove’. As the latter is closer in appearance to Turtle Dove = good opportunity to increase my own awareness of the characters of all 3.

Oriental Turtle Dove, Chipping Norton, Oxford, 22 Feb 2011 (above 3 photos). Has undergone considerable post- juvenile moult, including most of the primaries. The breast was deeply pigmented with brown tones and no real sense of obvious whiteness in ventral region- kind of mostly dark unders paling to greyish off-white in ventral region. I didn’t see it but Ian Lewington says on good views the dark bleeds onto the outer web of T6 (outermost tail feather).

Brett Richard sent some very helpful photos of a juvenile Rufous Turtle Dove, ‘meena’ at Al Ghaftain, Oman, taken on 18 November 2009. ( I think it might be a vagrant here?). I also put up a profile shot next to juv/1st winter Turtle Dove on Shetland on 7th October 2010. First views of this Turtle Dove was in flight. As it was the 2nd week of October, in an area I had seen both Taiga Flycatcher and Sykes’s Warbler- I figured, at least, it demanded a second look! I have often wondered if I might ‘throw away’ a young ‘meena’ Rufous Turtle Dove, because of the appearance being closer to Turtle Dove. So this was a chance to gen up.

Compare the 2 photos below. The first is a virtually full juvenile Rufous Turtle Dove, the second a juvenile (moult begun) Turtle Dove. What features would I go for in future? See the crisp orangey fringes to primaries and the more extensive filled in dark on the scapulars and tertials on the Rufous T.D. Then I might check the bare flesh around the eye (more obvious/ extensive on the Turtle Dove), and maybe if I could see them, check the tips of the primary coverts- tiny pale tips on the Rufous T.D. more obvious (when visible!) pale tips on the Turtle Dove.

Turtle Dove can have strong blue tones on back/ upper rump (see photo directly above) Tresta, Fetlar, Shetland, 7th October 2010.

Below: juvenile Rufous Turtle Dove (meena), Al Ghaftain, Oman, 18 November 2009 -showing rather extensive white in the underparts, compared with the extensive dark tones on the Chipping Norton bird. Thanks Brett- very helpful!

Thayer’s – like Gull in Galway

Dunno is the answer…

To the “What is it?” question. It’s down to the boys on the ground and increasingly better photos- but it is an interesting  bird. Enough is known about the subject now for lots of folk to get an idea- so here few photos to ruminate on over Sunday tea… Ideally? See it in the field! Personally if I only had couple of the flight shots below to go on (especially those further away!), I would be declaring it as a great looking Thayer’s Gull. Some of those original on-the-deck shots though are less appealing. Lets see how it plays…

Thanks to Dermot Breen who sent these photos taken today, by Michael Davis, at Rossaveal, Galway.

hybrid Mediterranean Gull

X Black-headed Gull

Thanks to Steve Arlow who sent these images from Pitsea, Essex, of an occasionally seen type of  hybrid. Can’t remember ever seeing one myself, though they were more regular when Med Gulls were first colonising Britain I think.

Steve comments:

“Hi Martin

Thought you may be interested in this hybrid Black-headed X Mediterranean Gull that was at Pitsea Landfill today [Thursday 17th Feb. 2011]. This may be the same bird that was seen at this site last February and in nearby Hole Haven Creek February 2008″

3 Jackdaws types

with weird Latin names

While in N. Ireland last weekend I got chance good looks and photos of Western Jackdaws- ssp. spermologus– the resident Jackdaws of Britain and Ireland. Best starting point for me has always been to ‘learn the local birds’ to know them well, that way ‘odd’ or interesting individuals are more easily discerned and its my way of being better informed to pick out a young Daurian Jackdaw!

Meanwhile Ian Smith sent me photos of 1st winter Nordic type Jackdaw from Spurn and Dan Brown of a bird in Cumbria which said “maybe I am a visiting Russian Jackdaw or what an intergrade looks like”. All grist to the…etc etc

adult spermologus Jackdaws. Millisle, N Ireland, 12th Feb 2011. Different angles and lighting can affect appearance. Check out the iridescent blues on right hand (head -on) bird in last shot.

Same adult spermologus Jackdaw in above 2 shots- watch out for relying on photos only- the apparent pale collar above is an artefact of angle and lighting.

1st winter Nordic Jackdaw ssp monedula, Spurn, 17th October 2010, Ian Smith.

hindneck/nape patch bit paler and more contrasting than on the N Irish spermologus above and with little white patch at front of collar. aged by brownish tones to wings with some moult contrast and especially that darker iris- scary!

Just as a reminder and comparison, I think this is a good candidate from Sussex in Feb. 2007  of Russian Jackdaw ssp. soemmerrengii .


Dan Brown sent me these images from Cumbria with following comments (Dan- don’t let Alex Lees see you are looking at these, you might lose your honorary ‘mohican’- c.f. this months end section of Birdwatch mag.)

“Hi Martin,

Hope all’s well. Thought you might be interested in the attached. I found it feeding with 52 Jacks in Cumbria yesterday and managed one poor shot before it was flushed by a Peregrine but luckily refound it today. It is such a striking bird and different in so many ways to spermologus. The main differences are apparent from the images but the overall feel of the bird was markedly different as well. It appeared slightly larger, but particularly more butch. The trousers seemed larger in volume and more ragged, much like a rook, the bill even seemed slightly heavier. The gloss on the secondaries also appeared far more marked than on accompanying birds although this may just be a factor of angle, light and greater concentration on one individual. All this combined with the beautifully contrasting plumage made me think it may be a soemmerringii or intergrade rather than a monedula. The underparts were certainly consistently dark.”