Monthly Archives: March 2012

Great Grey Shrike and Red Kite Surprise

Ramsley Moor near Sheffield

Went out this morning with Sheffield’s ace insect (and other animals) expert, Paul Richards. Our little plan was to try to get an early Adder. Lack of real warming sunshine prevented that. However we scored! A Great Grey Shrike was a surprise find and a Red Kite skirting the edge of Leash Fen was my first ever in the Sheffield area being mobbed by a Buzzard. Other birds included flushed Woodcock, single Crossbill over, 3 Teal on Ramsley res., and a kettle of 5 Common Buzzards. c 10 Red Deer were distant on Big Moor.

Great Grey Shrike on Ramsley Moor. A regular spot for ’em, always good value.

Check out the videos:



Red Kite over Leash Fen- whoop!

Viviparous Lizard– often referred to as Common Lizard, viviparous means gives birth to live young (no eggs to hatch). We watched the Shrike catch a lizard and later found this one trying to warm up (and maybe needing to avoid the Shrike). (photo: Paul Richards)

Excellent lesson in Centipedes and Millipedes from Paul included  2 Lithobius variegatus, ‘Striped Centipede’: see the alternate dark/light bands on the legs. (Paul Richards)


The very pretty lichen Cladonia christatella (‘Red Soldier’) was putting on a good show.

Gull Day Highlight

North Cheshire

Probably the most popular bird to learn from on Saturdays’ Gull Masterclass was this 1st winter (2nd cal. year) Yellow-legged Gull seen both at the tip and Richmond Bank giving excellent on the ground and in-flight views. The full variety of gull taxa seen was really good. More soon.

Do you know why it is one?

1st winter Yellow-legged Gull, Richmond Bank, Cheshire, 17th March 2012

The Caspians of Minsmere

and a head scratcher

Few more Pics of some of the gulls on Minsmere scrape from last Friday (9th March). It was an excellent mixture with all ages of both Caspian and Yellow-legged Gull. Would have made a good gull masterclass! Didn’t try to photograph everything but here’s a few of the Caspian’s as well as one of those that left me head scratching. The first winter that Dave F. picked up was a stunner, but quickly flew off:

a classy first winter Caspian which didn’t hang around



A preening adult Caspian (one of 2)

and the head scratcher. The plumage on this one looked OK for 2nd winter (3rd cal year) Caspian Gull, including nice almost wholly white underwings, but the head shape, bill structure and rather pale iris at this age said not ideal. Caspian genes maybe, so I labelled it ‘pseudo- Caspian.’


Here it is preening on video

and one more:

answers on a postcard…



and this 3rd winter again doings its long call- a real stunner!

Long Call of Caspian Gull

The Scrape, Minsmere,  9th March 2012

Venue of the annual BBRC AGM. I arrived to text from Alan Davies saying there were Caspian Gulls on the scrape. Quick drive around to Dunwich car park, paid an extortionate £5 to park and heading to east hide. Excellent gull watching produced I think up to 6 Caspian Gulls, 5 of which in the company of Dave Fairhurst before he had to go.

Here’s my favourite. A third winter (4th cal year) bird, I think, though aging gulls at this stage isn’t always straightforward. If you haven’t seen the open-winged long call (‘albatross posture’) of Caspian Gull- worth a watch. It does it a bit but not for whole call. Unfortunately the camera doesn’t pick up the actual call (at least I can’t hear it!). So go here to listen to the distinctive noise.



the video showcases:

* the often aggressive behaviour of Caspian Gull

* something of the wing opening part of the long call

* a very sexy looking gull!

More to come…


2nd time in Britain

A ringed Marsh Gull

Dean Nicholson’s persistence with the gulls has paid off. Watching at Hykeham, Lincolnshire he came across a yellow-legged Herring Gull in early February 2012. – an ‘omissus-type’. Big news was it had a readable ring on. Well now we can see the bird’s fuller story. I think it’s only the 2nd time a yellow-legged Herring Gull (old Marsh Gull) from Finland has been seen in Britain- the last being an adult found dead in Essex ( I think?). Fascinating stuff!

Here it is , then read on:

“Hi Martin

 Below are the full details of the Finnish ringed ‘omissus’,

 It is confirmed as having been rung at the nest as an adult (female) in Ruovesi, Hame, Finland on 29/05/2007, it was also recorded in Finland at Tampere in 2009 and 2010 and mine is the only sighting thus far outside of Finland.

 The legs on this bird were pretty bright and could potentially elicit confusion with michahellis to the unwary. It’s perhaps worth mentioning also that this bird also lacked a full band on p5 (in fact I hardly noticed any black at all on p5?) but showed typical full white tip to p10 and a large mirror on p9.

I wonder if all/most ‘omissus’ types seen in Britain come from the same area? There are certainly some birds which look better than others in terms of leg colouration but this bird seemed better than some I’ve seen with strong yellow covering the whole legs and feet.

 It was ringed at the nest along the lake edge (hence presumably where the term ‘Marsh Gull’ comes from?), Quite a few birds I have seen in Britain show intermediate leg colouration with some being consistently bright yellow (like this bird) and some with just a slight yellowish tone…. one bird even had yellow tarsus/tibia but pinkish feet(!)…..

 Well at least we now know where some of these yellow legged birds come from…..I certainly would have been more surprised if this bird had originated away from Finland.”

All the best, Dean

 Ringing Data

 Ring number:   HT260479
Species:   Herring Gull Larus argentatus      wing – 430.0mm     weight – 920.0g
Sex:   Female
Age:   Full-grown, hatched before 2004
Ringing date:   29.05.2007
Ringing place:   RUOVESI, HAME, FINLAND
Coordinates:   61′ 51′ N  23′ 52′ E
Status:   Healthy, wild bird
Catching method:   Caught at nest
 Recovery Data
 Verification of the ring:   Number not verified  
Species:   Herring Gull
Age:   Full-grown hatched before 2010
Recovery date:   08.02.2012
Coordinates:   53′ 11′ N  0′ 36′ W
Status:   Alive
Recovery Code:   bird identified from coloured or numbered leg rings
Additional Comments:   Yellow C02CN
 Elapsed time:   4 years, 8 months, 10 days
Distance:   1738 km; direction WSW from ringing place
 Previous reports
 Tampere, Finland 06.07 – 21.07.2007
Tampere, Finland 22.03 – 15.06.2008
Nokia, Finland 29.03 – 18.04.2009
Tampere, Finland 30.05.2009
Tampere, Finland 18.07.2010