Category Archives: 09) Skuas, Gulls, Terns

Baltic Gull

Keep lookin’

It was just over a year ago (26th July 2014) that Craig Thomas and I had an excellent first summer Baltic Gull off Flamborough Head. I could add ‘candidate’ but it just looked too good to use caveats :)

It gets a little harder in August but 2cy Baltic Gulls can still be expected. The Large Gulls now start to get very interesting.

A reminder of what to look for in this distinctive plumage  >>>>HERE<<<<

2cy Baltic Gull Nokia Koukku dump, SW Finland 20.7.2007. Photo: Hannu Koskinen

2cy Baltic Gull Nokia Koukku dump, SW Finland 20.7.2007. Photo: Hannu Koskinen

Above: A 2cy Baltic Gull in late July and below and a 2cy one in mid-November

2cy Baltic Gull, Israel, November 2012. Martin Garner

2cy Baltic Gull, Israel, November 2012. Martin Garner

 

 

juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls

michahellis– NOW!

It’s that time of year. Can I reminisce momentarily? Just 20 years ago juvenile and first winter Yellow-legged Gulls were rarely identified with any confidence. There seemed just too tricky and confusing! I remember trying to unravel the riddles.

Slowly but surely a picture began to emerge. Lots of practice with close-up juveniles of Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls helped a lot.

Are you there yet? There are always a very satisfying local find.

Right now juvenile/ 1cy Yellow-legged GUlls are flung far and wide. Almost daily off Flamborough they are about and waiting to be found :)

So it was nice to ogle over these close-up photos by Brett Spencer of two young michs taken 2 days ago in Dorset.

_MG_7533 _MG_7660

2 photos above, 1cy Yellow-legged Gulls (michahellis) Dorset , 26th July 2015, Brett Spencer.

 

Chris Gibbins has just returned from Spain, so to add to the visual preparation, here are more young michahellis showing the striking upperparts in flight, especially the tail pattern. Also some more variation in plumage. Good luck!

4D2A80054D2A76164D2A94813 photos above, 1cy Yellow-legged Gulls (michahellis) Spain, July 2015, Chris Gibbins.

 

Great Skuas summering off Flamborough

and them Pomarines

Martin Garner

Great Skua 28th June M Garner f (1 of 1)

Skua watching has been unusually good off Flamborough this June. However it’s not of the expected species. Up to 7 Pomarine Skuas and several Great Skuas seem to be summering in Bridlington Bay. Most individuals, especially the Pomarines appear to be immature birds as might be expected.

This Great Skua came particularly close this morning. The dark ‘hooded’ head and pale base to the upper mandibles indicate this should be an immature bird. I might take a stab at it being a 2nd summer. I haven’t looked into any literature but it would be interesting to see if the details in the photos can lead to a more definitive ageing.

Have a look:

Great Skua 28th June M Garner d (1 of 1)Great Skua 28th June M Garner a (1 of 1)Great Skua 28th June M Garner e (1 of 1)Great Skua 28th June M Garner g (1 of 1)

Ivory Gull in Varanger

I Never Dreamed…

Ooo… just missed turing up for the 2015 Gullfest. Still must a bit heart soul and body warming encounter for Simon Colenutt and Trevor Codlin in Vardo harbour  who found this adult Ivory Gull at the start of this week (22nd March 2015). Read  Biotope’s account of the Ivory Gull at Vardo,

Simon writes: ‘What a cracking bird! I never dreamed of finding Ivory Gull!”

Read more of Simon and Trevor’s visit at ‘The Deskboundbirder’

Check out that head shot!

Ivory oneb (1 of 1)Ivory one (1 of 1)Ivory onec (1 of 1)Ivory onea (1 of 1)

 

Juvenile/ 2cy Thayer’s Gull in Iceland

Helgavik Harbour, South West Iceland. 15th-16th March 2015

Following this 2nd winter trickier bird, Derek Charles and Edward Rickson picked up this more straightforward 2cy (juvenile/ first winter) Thayer’s from SW Iceland last Sunday and Monday (15-16th March).  It’ s a bit mealier below and paler in scapulars above than some but certainly  fits the Thayer’s ‘look’ overall. Derek also picked out a Brünnich’s Guillemot which proved popular with Icelandic birders. Nice!

One interesting point, Derek noted was that all first winter Iceland and Kumlien’s were extremely worn compared with this Thayer’s, furthermore making many Kumlien’s considerably more difficult to distinguish. All among the glorious swarm of March Icelandic Gull acton!

2cy Thayer’s Gull. Helgavik Harbour, March 2015. All photos Derek Charles:

tfive (1 of 1)

tfour (1 of 1) tone (1 of 1) tthree (1 of 1) ttwo (1 of 1)

Thayer’s Gull in Iceland?

Challenging 2nd winter plumage

Martin Garner and David Walker

First off checkout this amazing photo of the awesome gull swarm at Olafsvik, Iceland last year. From Dungeness Bird Obs warden Dave Walker- man you wanna go there!

Martin Casemore Plodding Birder and David clocked the darker bird looking a candidate 2nd winter’s Thayer’s a few days ago at Grundarfjordur, Iceland. It’s a bit of a scary bird, so a few photos and some comment. Lot more pictures of the bird on the Dungeness Bird Obs website.

gull flock (1 of 1)

 

 Gull sp , Grundarfjordur, Iceland, March, 2015

t12 (1 of 1)t125 (1 of 1)t123 (1 of 1)t17 (1 of 1)

 From MG:

“From the first photos it is pretty Thayer’s like. Indeed I suppose it may well be the progeny of 2 adult Thayer’s. However for ID purposes of vagrants I would not peg it as identifiable/ acceptable if it was say in the UK. There are a number of features that put it into the uncertain/ what is going on? box. On the broad front I wonder if there is some pioneer zone where there is some gene mixing- say NW Greenland and these scary ones show up from.

Specifically- and your photos show this much better- it is very mealy dark/light patterning in greater coverts- most often thayeri is quiet plain, the outer primaries have less dark than ideal- best if it crosses to the inner web- and the pattern starts going weak from p6, also not so good. There is a pale spot even if not a proper mirror on p10 and the little subterminal string of pale spots on p8 ish and inwards is definitely odd and maybe better for kumlieni I think.

So that combined set of slight oddments are a least at ‘edge’ of acceptable 2nd winter Thayer’s would make me say it’s best left as Thayer’s -like but uncertain ID. It’s not dissimilar to some we showcased here  and those features are hashed out further here. I have seen quite a few 2nd winter Thayer’s and most look more straightforward- which is of course you want when claiming vagrants! Always learning…”

argentatus Herring Gull wing tips and travels

Remarkable Movements

Martin Garner

It’s what they do, where they go, how far they travel,  the ‘gull narrative’ that adds to the wonder. While Gullfest 2015 is cooking in Vardø and folk visit the mighty Hornøya  Island. Here’s one of those stories.

 

JX347:  Hornøya to South Yorkshire and back again and back again

JX347 having been rung on Hornøya has wintered in South Yorkshire- two years running! As a first winter bird and as a second winter bird- and been well photographed. The variety in young northern argentatus Herring Gull is quiet considerable. This one is not an easy ‘pick-out’ on plumage. And what route did it take to reach the UK? Over the arctic top like this Great Black-backed Gull or through the Baltic? Both are possibilities. Have  look:

First Winter plumage 

(poached from excellent  Barnsley Bird Blog – photo by Steve Denny)

DSCN6894

Second Winter plumage

In Sheffield last month- (photo by Andy Deighton)

shefield 2

 

Thanks to Andy Deighton and Morton Helberg for following:

CR-Code Black ring with white code: JX347 LBM;RBNW(JX347)
Ringing Centre Stavanger Museum (Norway) Ring number 4193850
Species Herring Gull  Larus argentatus
Sex Unknown Age Pullus

Date Place Coordinates Observers Days/km/°
29.06 2013 Hornoya, Vardo, Finnmark, Norway 70°23’16″N 031°09’21″E Lyng, Torben
26.02 2014 Anglers Country Park, Wintersett, West Yorks, Great Britain 53°38’19″N 001°25’56″W Leeman, Brian 242/2464/237
02.03 2014 Wintersett Reservoir , West Yorks, Great Britain 53°37’42″N 001°25’57″W Denny, Steven 246/2465/237
02.03 2014 Wintersett Reservoirs, Great Britain, Great Britain 58°38’00″N 001°26’00″W Denny, Steven 246/1994/245
11.02 2015 Warren Street, Sheffield, South Yorks, Great Britain 53°23’21″N 001°26’41″W Deighton, Andy 592/2489/236

 to compare- a similar 1st winter was photographed at Vardø April 2012:

argy first winter  vardo (1 of 1)

Adult wing tips

Since the early 1980’s these have fascinated me (especially when the local county refused to accept the records!). The most interesting have usually been the ones with reduced black and more white in the wing tips. Some sporting the ‘thayer’ pattern on the outermost primary P10 and even on the penultimate long primary p9. What’s the thayeri pattern? As on an adult Thayer’s Gull, the pale/ white wedge on the inner primary runs right through to th white ‘mirrors’ near the tip and NO black cuts across the feather- as on the typical pattern of most dark winged Large Gulls.

Here is the thayeri pattern from  Banks from 1917- “The Status of Larus thayeri. Thayer’s Gull”

The pattern on the right show the uninterrupted white right through to the wing tip.

 

Thayeri wing tip Banks

 

So here’s some argentatus  with the thayeri pattern

from Gullfest 2013 at Vardø

ad argy white (1 of 1) argentataus adddb (1 of 1) argentataus adddbm (1 of 1) argentatus 1 (1 of 1) argentatus 45a (1 of 1)argentatus adult wing 13 (1 of 1)argentatus adult wing 4 (1 of 1)THAYERI ARGY3 (1 of 1)THAYERI ARGY4 (1 of 1)

not visible this just has thayeri pattern on p9argy wing not used

This one has nice long tongue but no thayeri

THAYERI ARGY6 (1 of 1)

Darker-winged adults

we also found darker winger birds- some with 6 black marked primaries which were intriguing. one of these had been rung further south in the Baltic.

argentatus adult wing 1 (1 of 1) argentatus adult wing 2 (1 of 1) argentatus adult wing 10 (1 of 1) argentatus adult wing 11 (1 of 1)

 

Ringed in Poland 

This next bird was trapped at Vardø already sported ring from Poland. Pink-legged and dark backed it was the darkest winged bird we trapped. 6 black marked primaries including dark band across p5.

argentatus adult wing 12 (1 of 1)

Gdansk ring b (1 of 1) Gdansk ring c (1 of 1)

 

another darker winged bird
dARKER WINGED ARGY2 (1 of 1)

back to those beautiful pale wing tip patternsargentatus c (1 of 1) argentatus extreme a (1 of 1) argy 3 (1 of 1)

How cold? Waiting to explore gulls and ducks…blizz (1 of 1)

 

Colourful ducks

with rubbery looking fish lips and amazing plumage tones- in both males and femalesstelers onee (1 of 1) fem steller's e (1 of 1)

and King DucksKing eiders (1 of 1)

and pretty smaller gulls

whose wing tip patterns we are exploring…

Kittiwake ne (1 of 1)