Monthly Archives: July 2014

Challenge Series pre-publication offer has gone live

Lots more with sample pages and chance to buy now

Don’t hang about . A special pre-publication offer is now live. To read more about the book and to buy it go here.

The book will be launched officially on 15th August at the Birdfair, Rutland at the price of £14.99. More info on that coming soon.

To buy the book: Click HERE

or go to the Birding Frontiers HOMEPAGE and click on NEW BOOK in the top menu line

juvenile female Northern Harrier. Ireland by Paul Kelly

juvenile female Northern Harrier. Ireland by Paul Kelly

Kumlien’s Gulls can appear early

23rd September 2013 on the Isle of Man

Recent correspondence sent from John (dad) and Adam (son ) Peet on the Isle of Man about a tricky gull early in the autumn last year.

Apparently birders were still trying to get a definitive verdict on whether it was a Kumlien’s Gull or not.

2cy Kumlien's Gull, Isle of Man, 23rd September 2013, Adam Peet

2cy Kumlien’s Gull, Isle of Man, 23rd September 2013, Adam Peet

 

John also sent  a link to very instructive photos taken by Chris W. HERE

2cy Kumlien’s Gull, Isle of Man, 23rd September 2013, Adam Peet

 

Well I think its one of those (fortunately) straight forward Kumlien’s Gulls and it’s moulting from 1st summer to 2nd winter plumage- or if you prefer it’s a 2cy bird in September in full wing, tail and body moult. I checked with BF team member and gull guru, Chris Gibbins who also thought I was a straightforward Kumlien’s’. WHY? Structurally looks great for Kumlien’s/ Iceland.  7 full-grown new primaries, p8 part grown and still to grow in p9 and p10. The outer 3 visible (p6, 7 and 8) all have dark smudge at feather tips with a kind of pale mirror- a spot-on pattern 2nd winter Kumlien’s’ character. Furthermore p7 and 8 have outer web obviously darker than inner web. Fab broad and very obvious dark, plain tail band completes the ID as Kumlien’s Gull.

Why September?

When I lived in N. Ireland it wasn’t unusual to see the odd Glaucous or Iceland which arrived the previous winter and stayed on over summer. That for me would be the most likely explanation for the birds’ appearance at this time of year, though there could be others of course.

 

 

What’s in the Book?

and How do I buy the book?

Details of how to buy the book will be posted on here  very soon (next couple of days). Just setting up the page. There will be options for UK, Europe and Worldwide purchasers.

Around at Phil and Sue’s house this evening. I asked Phil what tricky Identification challenge from the new book Challenge Series : AUTUMN he wanted me to post.

These he said IMG_1454something about these being a great and new ID challenge in the autumn:

So the new book covers 8 different types (taxa) of Stonechats which occur either as  residents, migrants or vagrant in Europe.

Here then (for Phil) is another taster. Part of the stonechats chapter covering Siberian Stonechats look like this. There are also sections on Stejneger’s, North and South Caspian and the 2 two European Stonechat taxa.

.

Siberian Stonechat pages

 

Plenty more information to come in the next few days– just putting it together.

Cheers Martin

Baltic Gull off Flamborough – the easy plumage.

In its first summer (2nd calendar year).

Martin Garner (and Chris Gibbins)

2cy fuscus- Why is it such a cool subject? 🙂

– no accepted British records of unringed Baltic Gull in Britain

– gull watching community convinced  that many 2cy fuscus in May-July are very/easily/eminently identifiable and should be acceptable to national committees.

– just need a well seen and I guess really well photographed individual

– summer 2013 was a very good breeding year for fuscus, which logically explains the

Juvenile Gull showing characters of Baltic Gull, Flamborugh, 21st Sept. 2013. Martin Garner.

Juvenile Gull showing characters of Baltic Gull, Flamborugh, 21st Sept. 2013. Martin Garner.

appearance of apparent juvenile Baltic Gulls in Norfolk and East Yorkshire (and probably elsewhere?).

– following on from last point, this summer numbers of 2cy fuscus in Finland are described as ‘exceptionally high’- so there are probably a few roaming around …nearby… close to you… etc. etc.

– observers like Richard Millington, Mark Golley, Pete Wilson and Brian Small (and others?) have recorded them in the past and tried to get others enthused

26th July 2014

An early seawatch on 26th July from belowBaltic Gull at Flamborough 26th July 2014 the Fog Station at Flamborough soon saw me  joined by Yorkshire’s finest in the form of Craig Thomas. About 6:30 am I was scanning gulls coming into one of 2 fishing boats off the head when a picked up what appeared to be a rather smart and blackish plumaged, if immature ‘Lesser Black-backed Gull’. I called it to Craig who had already picked up the same bird. It landed briefly on the water where I could see an immature bill base, not absolutely certain of the colour, somewhere around bright olive, with obvious ‘dipped-in-ink’ black tip. The whole upperparts plumage (mantle/scaps/wing coverts) was a mix of  blackish- too dark for any graellsii, and plain brown immature feathering and set off a mostly clean-looking white head.  It only remained on the water for a few seconds and as I was clocking the features it took off. I quickly noted what looked like a perfect and full set of wings and tail with seemingly at first, no apparent moult.  I immediately said to Craig something  like- “this is a Baltic Gull candidate”, pointing out the smartness and apparently complete wings and tail. We then watched the bird as it flew slowly around and eventually headed SW into Bridlington Bay. We both looked very closely at the wings and tail. The wings appeared really smart, all primaries of same looking type (no moult contrast) and lacking the brown worn pointed tips of old outer primaries, which were present on virtually all the other 2cy large gulls around. As Craig kept saying ‘it looks really smart! The tail was essentially a solid broad black band, no white ‘piano keys’ , just impression of small black stippling at proximal edge and bright white rump (and of course bases to tail feathers).  As I watched it circle I detected a ‘nick’ at the juncture of the primaries and secondaries in one if not both wings, the tell-tale sign of a missing P1 feather. This was a little disconcerting  and I was a little deflated because in my recollection, I wanted something with all new primaries… not gaps!

I quickly scribbled down notes on the birds appearance and we discussed the issues involved as they could be recalled. Less than 15 minutes later we were distracted again as  a full juvenile Caspian Gull flew into the closer of the two fishing boats…

Only when I got home and spoke to Chris Gibbins did I discover the ‘nick’ was the best news possible- Staffelmauser!

Why moult makes the ID easy.

The moult of fuscus over their first winter is extremely variable, but a dominant pattern is for birds to replace all of their wing and tail feathers before returning north in the spring.  This makes these typical birds very identifiable during the summer of their second calendar year. These typical ones are the ones to look for. The ones that don’t follow this typical pattern are very tricky, so best left aside. The following discussion focuses on the typical fuscus.

Bill colour and leg colour can be good start point for ageing – often pinkish or olive based bill with black tip in 2cy (some more yellow, some almost all black) normally bright yellow and more adult like in 3cy with varying amounts of red and black.  Legs similar, most often dull pinkish/ olive and not so often bright yellow. 3cy fuscus look pretty much like full adult birds (unlike  3cy graellsii/ intermedius that have more obvious immaturity)

 

Then focus on wings. All graellsii/ intermedius are in obvious wing moult- usually mid wing moult in July with mix of old worn brown juvenile outer flight feathers and new inner ones, with moult gaps and regrowing feathers. Baltic Gulls (65-70%) of 2cy have moulted most/ all of their flight feathers in wintering grounds so have full set of nearly new primaries. The closest intermedius that get to that is for the most advanced birds to still have 2 plus old primaries; this is also matched by less advanced fuscus (which are harder to identify ).

 The Silver Bullet – Staffelmauser moult pattern

So anything with full set new primaries and correctly aged as 2cy (bill and leg colour, as well as tail pattern) is fuscus. Period. Furthermore some 2cy fuscus in July have started a second primary moult, a one that brings in 3rd generation feathers (dropped inner primaries eg p1).  Some even start this second this moult before completing the first; this  is NEVER found in graellsii / intermedius and is refereed to by the German name:  Staffelmauser  where moulting outer primaries (or complete) to second gen and at same time inner primaries to 3rd gen.

graellsii and intermedius won’t start 3rd gen moult in primaries for nearly a whole year!

Tail: fully new tail is also pro fuscus but not so unusual in 2cy graellsii/ intermedius. Less good if in mid tail moult for fuscus

Have a look at photos below: look at upperparts, head colour, bare parts and especially new set of primaries, tail pattern and in some start of 3rd gen moult (inner most primary dropped)

 

 

IMG_C43027

 

 

2cy Larus fuscus red "C68A" at Nokia Koukku dump, SW Finland 20.7.2007. Foto: Hannu Koskinen

2cy Larus fuscus red “C68A” at Nokia Koukku dump, SW Finland 20.7.2007. Foto: Hannu Koskinen

 

2cy Larus fuscus red "C68A" at Nokia Koukku dump, SW Finland 20.7.2007. Foto: Hannu Koskinen

2cy Larus fuscus red “C68A” at Nokia Koukku dump, SW Finland 20.7.2007. Foto: Hannu Koskinen

Check out this one above photographed in July with new primaries and tail and starting its 3rd generation moult. P1 has been dropped. Staffelmauser!

A different individual below

2cy Larus fuscus "HT000110" at Tara dump, SW Finland 14.7.2007. Foto: Hannu Koskinen

2cy Larus fuscus “HT000110” at Tara dump, SW Finland 14.7.2007. Foto: Hannu Koskinen

 

2cy Larus fuscus "HT000110" at Tara dump, SW Finland 14.7.2007. Foto: Hannu Koskinen

2cy Larus fuscus “HT000110” at Tara dump, SW Finland 14.7.2007. Foto: Hannu Koskinen

 ‘ave it!

Above: Look at those beautiful new wings and tail, no moult contrast between old and new flight feathers. It’s a very identifiable Baltic Gull in this type of plumage in May, June and July. This one has even dropped p1- its a totally acceptable Baltic Gull- wherever you see it.

 

Very grateful thanks to Craig T, Chris Gibbins, Mark Golley and Hannu Koskinen for much helpful input and clarification.

More Blue Fulmars with dark in the tail

Svalbard, July 2013

with grateful thanks to Alan McBride for these stunning photos. See his website.

“Hey Martin,

Enjoyed your post about the Atlantic Fulmar (and most others too)… Attached are three from Svalbard waters between 05 and 08 July last year, 2013…
Of the birds I photographed and where I can see the tail clearly I’d say there was less than 2% with dark anywhere on tail and in some, it seems to be partial. These three are best I could come up with ;-(
Hope they’re of interest / use…
Very best wishes
Alan”
Svalbard

Svalbard

SvalbardSvalbardSvalbardSvalbard

 

 

Alan McBride  ·  Photographer / Writer Lancashire England · Languedoc France · Sydney Australia  http://www.alanmcbride.com.au

New Birding Frontiers Book

The Challenge Series: AUTUMN

Martin Garner

Dear Birding Frontiers…  readers, followers and friends

This is a little note on Tuesday evening to give you some advanced information. I have been working on a book with a remarkable team of people. It will be available from 15th August 2014 when it will be officially launched as part of the new Authors Wildlife Forum  at the Birdfair, Rutland Water (scroll down a bit to find us ).

More information will be coming each day (pretty much) up to the Birdfair to give you a taste of the book and its contents.

Most importantly we will be making a pre-publication offer of £3:00 off the price of the book limited to 100 copies. First come, first served basis. That offer will appear on here in the next few days.

For now a sneak preview into the layout to give you a taste of how it will look:

………………………….‘The Challenge Series’

 

A chapter introduction page:

Subalpine Warblers introduction spread

 

 

A two page spread for one taxon:

Wilson's Snipe 2 page spread

 

 

The Contents Page:

 

contents page

 

 

to be continued…  🙂

 

Flamborough Migration Foot-it Challenge

Richard Baines

fboSeeing birds using habitat which you have helped create is a great feeling! Flamborough Bird Observatory (FBO) has an active team of conservation volunteers working hard to create and conserve land for birds and other wildlife.

Over the two months of September and October 2014 I will be setting out on a sponsored challenge to see or hear as many species of birds as possible within the FBO area east of (and including) Danes Dyke. The wonderful world of a ‘foot it’ challenge means for a species to be counted I must leave and return on foot to my base home near the Lighthouse! This is the ultimate local patch birding designed with maximum benefit for birds and zero carbon impact (apart from the extra CO² wheezing out of my lungs as I run for those rarities).

How Can You Help?

My target is to raise funds to Richard Bainesenable us to improve habitat and resources for visitors in the famous Old Fall woodland and at Thornwick Pools. At Old Fall we need to manage the willows on the edge of the wood, increase the amount of sunlight getting to the pond by enhancing the glade inside the wood and plant more shrubs to improve opportunities for birds to feed lower down below the canopy.  At Thornwick Pool we need to relocate the hide further back from its current position to create more mud for waders and manage the vegetation in front of the hide. All this work requires tools such as strimmers to be used by volunteers or we need to pay contractors to do the work. The more funds we have in the conservation kitty the more we can do and you can be sure every penny goes to improving habitat for wildlife!

If you would like to donate please email me richard.baines@yorkshirecoastnature.co.uk or at fborecords@hotmail.com. Every penny goes directly to the projects! I will be posting regular updates on the FBO web site fbo.co.uk so keep checking back to follow my progress.

Thornwick Pool: bringing visitors, helping people encounter nature and benefiting from investment in conservation

Thornwick Pool: bringing visitors, helping people encounter nature and benefiting from investment in conservation

Juvenile Little Egret. This young is currently visiting Thornwick Pool

Juvenile Little Egret. This young is currently visiting Thornwick Pool

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper and Ruff give stunning views on Thornwick Pond. By Dave Aitken

Juvenile Wood Sandpiper and Ruff give stunning views on Thornwick Pond. By Dave Aitken