Friday, 22 August 2014

Eastoft and Candles, 12th Aug 2014

After a busy few days at work, I woke up in Doncaster with a free day ahead, so started with the gull flocks betwen Crowle and Eastoft. The first flock of 330 LBBs by the chicken sheds held 8 ad-type michs, then a flock of 70 LBBs by the radio mast contained 14 michs (13 ad-types and a 2cy). Further on, at least 500 LBBs were spread over a few fairly distant fields opposite Sand House Farm, and I managed another 16 michs. Finally, as I headed south, I came across another 4 michs by the A18 just into South Yorkshire, making 42 in total.
Back on home turf, the crematorium drew a blank as everything was out of sight behind a hedge, so I headed for Candles. Heat-haze was a bit of an issue, but a decent number of gulls yielded 7 michs (3 ads, a 3cy, 2 2cys and a juv), and then I picked up an amazing set of coverts on a juvenile gull on the top of the tip. A fantastic wedge across the greater coverts was highlighted by double wingbars of pale covert tips, and every feather was neatly fringed in white. The head was slightly paler than the body, although the belly and vent were pure white, and the bill leapt out at me, being pink-based already! It soon flew, revealing a broad black tailband on a bright white tail, pale underwings and a fairly pale inner primary window - a juv Caspian Gull! It landed closer and went straight to sleep, but those perfectly neat coverts were replicated on the scaps, the lower ones being classically long and leaf-like with no internal markings. A few of the inner greater coverts were lightly marbled, the tertials were dark brown with neat thumbnail tips, and the wings were long and attenuated. A beauty, despite that odd bill!

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the flock, a 2cy with a dazzling white head and body caught the eye, with a distinctly Caspian jizz. The eye was small and dark with that tell-tale shadow in front, the head nicely rounded with a good snout, the bill narrow and pinky-based, and the long legs almost whitish. The mantle tone was slightly confusing though, being somewhat darker than ideal, but unmarked unlike the nearby 2cy LBBs. Coverts and tertials looked ok too, making it the second Caspian Gull of the day!

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