Thursday, 25 July 2013

Elsham, 23rd-24th July 2013

baltische meeuw

Jackpot! In a remarkable re-run of last April, I drove up the A15 early morning on 23rd July and was astounded to see thousands of gulls in the very same field at Elsham, along with the familiar white tanker and green tractor. And finally there was a break in the sunshine and heat-haze, and my disappointment at seeing the Bonby field ploughed in front of my eyes disappeared. I got into position, and amongst the hordes, and the liberal sprinkle of michs (including a couple of smart juvs), a set of fresh black primaries protruding from a 2cy gull caught my eye. It looked up to show a gleaming white head and body, a buff-frosted mantle, fresh-looking tertials, and a worn wing with a few plain, blacker coverts mixed in. The greater coverts were all still one generation, and a flush of the flock caused it to show me a new tail, new secondaries, and complete 2nd-generation primaries with P1-2 missing to make way for 3rd-generation feathers - Baltic Gull!

The usual doubts, emails and internet research followed, and it became apparent I had to be 100% certain the primaries were all new. Day two, misty and murky, but it appeared, closer this time, and every feather tip was visible, all black and rounded and new. Job done. And with a supporting cast of 3cy Caspian Gull, 14 michs and a handful of Meds including a slinky juv.

supporting cach

Best field ever.

Wednesday, 17 July 2013

Bonby, 17th July 2013

P1-3 new, P4 growing (with black subterminal spot), P5 missing

The heat-wave continues, making gulling virtually impossible after about 7am! A huge number of birds in the usual field this morning held at least 8 michs: 3 adults, a near-adult, a 4cy, 2 3cy and a 2cy. Who knows how many are actually there - the viewing is restricted to say the least.

Monday, 15 July 2013

Bonby, 10th July 2013

Despite hundreds of large gulls using the fields and floods during the spring, it was struggle to pull anything out of any interest. Come July, the start of the traditional gulling season, the first scan of the first group yielded a smart adult mich! That was the first of probably 6 birds: 3 adults, a 4cy, and 2 3cy. No juvs yet.

Things were made easier by the blanket of cloud that sat across the eastern fringe, keeping the light nice and the temperatures (and heat-haze) down. Grey tones were easy to distinguish, and a striking black back on one of the floods stood out a mile. The fact that it was dinky added to the fuscus feel, and a wing-stretch revealed brown coverts mixed into an otherwise adult-looking bird, aging it as a 3cy. But being so advanced is perhaps not quite good enough to consider it proven, and the active primary moult maybe suggests intermedius rather than fuscus... Close, but as always the official line is that it needs to be ringed.

The feeding flock showed nicely in the evening after the tractors had finished, and amongst a couple of michs was another mid-grey mantle but attached to a gleaming white body and small head with a beady eye, snouty colourless bill, and long greyish legs - a 3cy Caspian Gull. Nice.
Back in the home county, and with recent news that LBBs have bred this year for only the second time, the flock of c400 at Candles held a freshly fledged juv! As well as 3 michs (ad, 3cy, 2cy).