Thursday, 28 February 2013

Priorslee and Candles, 28th Feb 2013

An early return from work under annoyingly sunny skies meant a quick look at Priorslee Lake, and I was shocked to see c500 large gulls on the water. A scan with bins located the uglier 3cy Iceland Gull, and then a closer look revealed a 2cy Caspian Gull. The particularly silvery mantle and plain brown coverts got me thinking, and on closer examination of scapular pattern it was obvious that it was a new bird - 2cy number 6 and Caspian number 12 for me!

It flew to the jetties at the far end to preen amongst the Black-heads, showing off its long neck and much white underparts than last week's bird (which it otherwise quite closely resembled). The Iceland then landed on the jetties briefly before everything flushed back onto the water.
Another scan (adding the resident drake Scaup to the list) and there were two wingers at the far end of the lake - the 3cy Iceland and the 3cy Glauc, side by side! Very nice.
Despite all this activity, like a moth to the flame I was drawn to Candles, and I arrived to find the tip-face edging ever closer to the viewpoint, and the views were superb. Unfortunately the numbers were not, and an adult and smart 2cy michs were the best I could muster.

Friday, 22 February 2013

Candles and Horsehay, 22nd Feb 2013

 "It's never as good the next day" has proved correct on many occasions, and by lunchtime it looked as if it would do so again. Admittedly the latest 3cy Iceland Gull had shown itself superbly on the pool (is it me, or is there a certain kumlieni feel to it?), but the gulls on the tip were a nightmare, never settling for a minute.
A trip to Priorslee to eat my chips proved fruitless, but one last look at the tip on the way home produced a new 3cy Glauc within minutes, and over the next 50 minutes we added last week's 3cy Iceland and the recent enormous white 2cy Glauc to the haul (the latter the same bird as called a 3cy on 3rd Jan)! Four wingers in a day, and not a sniff of a cach!

Thursday, 21 February 2013

Buildwas and Candles, 21st Feb 2013

Cold, clear and bright with a thin layer of cloud meant perfect gulling weather, and a quick stop at Buildwas on the way to the tip was well worthwhile. Amongst c500 large gulls (90% LBBs) was a glorious 2cy Caspian Gull stood tall and proud for less than a minute before it flew off, but looking for all the world like a new individual. Also in the flock were an impressive 5 michs (ad, 2 4cy, 3cy, 2cy).
Up at the tip, c1,000 gulls were loafing in the field, but flew as I pulled up, so it was into the wind and onto the tip, where the views were fantastic as they're tipping much closer now. Fortunately the Caspian reappeared, showing itself to be 1w number 5 of the winter, and an absolute stunner. In addition there were 3 michs (4cy, 2 3cy), an ugly ad hybrid HGxLB, and a creamy leucistic Herring, but no wingers this time.

At midday the Casp flew off south with a full crop, but it couldn't be relocated at Horsehay or Buildwas, although a 2cy Common Gull was new at the latter.

Wednesday, 20 February 2013

Saxby, 19th Feb 2013

A few days at work in Lincs were plagued by fog but interspersed with bright sunshine, and on 19th there were small gulls everywhere at Saxby, following a selection of ploughs. A handful of adult Meds were picked out, and at 2.35pm I looked up to see a gleaming 2cy Iceland Gull soaring overhead! Two hours later, thousands of gulls were streaming north to roost on the Humber, and in a more distant group I picked up a big buffy 2cy Glauc dwarfing the surrounding Black-heads. Both wingers in an afternoon! Next day the Iceland was relocated in another ploughed field with 4 adult Meds in the area, but no Glauc.

Wednesday, 13 February 2013

Candles and Horsehay, 13th Feb 2013

A rare full day free to really hit the tip hard and... it snowed. I managed a couple of hours in the morning before the visibility got too bad, and then the cloudbase dropped and the tip was engulfed, so I was forced to sit it out at nearby Horsehay Pool. Long periods of relative calm were interspersed by busy arrivals of gulls off the tip, and by the end of the day the totals looked pretty good.
A complete surprise on the pool late afternoon was a 3cy Iceland Gull that disappeared after c15 seconds but then returned for a little longer, showing a glaring pale iris, browner primaries and dirtier head and body than last week's 2cy.

Despite the short time available at the tip, in 90 minutes I racked up 3 Caspian Gulls although views were distant and brief in the constantly moving melee. Fortunately two of them appeared on the pool later on, including a new bird (actually found by Jim yesterday), a cracking 5cy with a couple of dark primary coverts and a narrow black bar across the white tip to P10. The other two were 2cy birds that have been seen before: bird 4 that was found on 7th Feb, and bird 3 that was first found on 12th Jan and last seen on 5th Feb at Priorslee by KW. The latter appeared on the pool for a drink today.
The remainder of my time was spent getting to grips with some of the Yellow-legged Gulls that came and went during the day, a couple of which spent long periods dozing on the water or hassling the Black-heads for food. A minimum of 8 birds were seen: 2 adults, a 5cy, 2 4cy and 3+ 3cy.

Tuesday, 12 February 2013

Buildwas, 10th Feb 2013

Following a call from Andy, arrived at the floods minutes after the Kittiwake flew off, unfortunately, but a 20 minute wait proved fruitful, with the surprise relocation of the big male 4cy Caspian Gull last seen on 3rd Jan (although seen by others in the meantime at Horsehay on 11th Jan and at Candles on 8th Feb -  has it been here throughout or just returned after a few weeks elsewhere?) and 2 michs, a familiar-looking 3cy and a smart new 2cy.

Saturday, 9 February 2013

Candles, 7th Feb 2013

A brief visit on the way home from work coincided with lunchtime on the tip, and as a result gull numbers were pretty low. I was joined by Kris and Jim, and numbers built up as the machines got going again, and it wasn't long before a distinctive set of greater coverts and grey scaps were seen on a bird with its head in a hole. Everything looked good for a Caspian, but then it raised its head and looked a bit odd. Despite regular flushes, I kept picking it up on those striking wings, which were often held aloft in a bit of an albatross display, and the underwing and tail looked good too. On reflection, there were no hybrid features, and it was in fact 2cy Caspian number 4 this winter!
During the next hour the 2cy Iceland Gull appeared again, and a smart adult Herring x LBB was seen, but alas there was no sign of either of the 2cy Glaucs seen by Kris during the week, one of which was a very pale bird with a pinky-buff band across the median coverts, almost certainly the bird called a 3cy by Andy last weekend (I only glimpsed it as it flew off from Leighton on 3rd) and by me back in early January.

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Candles, 1st Feb 2013

After a fruitless drive-by the day before (an adult mich at Buildwas was the best I could muster), the first day of the new month felt more promising under a cloudy sky. On arrival mid afternoon the tip was swarming with gulls, and within minutes I picked up the highlight of the day - a glorious adult Caspian Gull sporting a vivid yellow Polish darvic.
After giving me the run around, I finally managed to get some shots, and when it climbed to the top of a mound I grabbed 3.5 seconds of video before everything flew. Back home, a review of the footage produced 3 frames where the code is legible - PADZ - and a rapid response from Poland revealed that it was ringed as a pullus in the south of the country in 2009, making it a 5cy.
But the day (or mere hour as it turned out) wasn't over yet, and I soon picked up another adult Caspian with a black crescent on the bill which made it indistinguishable from the bird that we've been seeing on and off since 30th Nov 2012. Next up was a 2cy Iceland Gull picked up on just a view of its head - a coarsely marked bird but not in the primaries. Three michs were also noted, an adult and 2 3cy, and finally a third Caspian Gull -the pale-billed 2cy found by Dawn and Pete in December and seen by myself on 14th January! The overlap of dates of all these birds is amazing, and really warrants a full day some time soon...