Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Winter Gulling Season (2011-2012) Commences

So it's that time of year again when the Autumn draws to a close and the Winter reveals what has arrived in the Autumn. Seems that Mealy Redpolls are starting to arrive in various parts of the UK, however only a few Mealy’s have been reported to date in our local area. Hopefully these numbers will build up and we should get some Mealy’s back this year. Oh how I have missed them so. 

I started my Winter Gull’ing last Saturday, I spent a gruelling 4 or so hours looking for a Caspian Gull on Seaton Common down at Teesside but drew a blank. I would be back for round 2.

Sure enough on Monday I went back down to Seaton Common and was down for round 2 with the Caspian Gulls. I put in a further 5 hours and still nothing, not even a Yellow-legged Gull to keep me amused. It would appear that strangely there are more Caspian Gulls than Yellow-legged Gulls down Teesside at the moment in time. Quite bizarre and certainly very different to what we are used to.

Today I went down and put in another 6 or so hours and I was not disappointed, shortly after arriving I was onto my first 1st winter Caspian Gull. I had seen the species before, if you remember early in the year when I was twitching the Slaty-backed Gull (or dipping) I had my first ever Caspian Gull. However that bird was an adult and I had never seen the more distinctive 1st winter Caspian Gulls. At first the bird was concealed and you could only see the head, however it soon moved slightly and walked up the bank and allowed for some good views. It took off and I managed to follow it in the scope for a short while allowing for me to see the broad tail band and the contrast between the grey mantle and brown wing coverts. The bird was followed and was seen to land and instantly picked up again. It showed really well and we were able to get a side on profile view of the bird and we were able to study it at length. I decided to take advantage of the situation and take some field notes, I will show these below and I have also added to them slightly:
  • Black bill.
  • Jet black primaries matching the same colour tones as the birds bill.
  • A very upright posture.
  • Base of the bill showed some pinkish tones.
  • Terials well marked, with brown dark centres with broad white fringe.
  • Small and beady eye, set quite far forward in head toward bill.
  • Fine streaking on the breast sides.
  • Shawl like pattern on the birds hindneck, fairly neat and tidy.
  • Broad black tailband, thickset and obvious in flight.
  • Coverts a light brownish, contrasting with the black cantered upper scapulars and white underbody.
  • Head, neck, and underbody very white, clean pearly white opposed to dirty looking like most Herring Gulls. White areas mainly unmarked and therefore gives the bird a distinctive appearance.
  • Pear shaped head, with sloping forehead. However this latter feature can vary depending upon the posture the bird is adopting.
  • Overall the bird gave off a gentle and kind feel, very memorable individual and would easily pick the bird out again from a large loafing flock of gulls.
  • 4 coloured; black, white, grey, and brown. Each colour contrasting with each other fairly strongly. This makes for an all together distinctive look.
Below is my video of the first bird and a rubbish picture, the second picture is far better and is of the second 1st winter bird we saw today.

(Caspian Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

(Caspian Gull - © Andrew Kinghorn)

(Caspian Gull - © Chris Bell)

Brilliant way to kick off the winters Gull’ing, how where’s the white wingers? 

Until next time, Foghorn out!

1 comment:

  1. I love how obvious and striking 1stw Caspians are...Can't wait to see one! This winter has to be the year surely!