Tuesday 29 March 2011

Catalonia, Spain, March 2011: gulls and some other things

I spent 20-28 March working in Lleida, but managed a few days of birding around Tarragona and the Ebro delta. These are a few pics from the trip.

Audouin's Gull - always beauties.

Black Kites had arrived in good numbers - this is one from Lleida rubbish dump

Night Heron
Great-spotted Cuckoo - early spring is great for these birds, as they are very vocal.

Yellow-legged Gull. A bird sporting a fully white tip to p10

Yellow-legged Gull.

Yellow-legged Gull. This has an unusual p10 pattern, combining a rather long grey tongue (approx half the length of the exposed feather) and a fully white tip.

A rather more typical bird.

I spent a great couple of days in Tarragona, with Albert Cama and Joan Ferrer Obiol. Amazingly, we managed to find 3 Caspian Gulls in the harbour- two 1w birds and a 2w. These are little more than records shots, but worth posting as this species remains unusual in NE Spain. Above is one of the 1w birds, captured in a flock of Yellow-legged and Lesser Black-backed Gulls

The same 1w bird, with a LBB

A different 1w bird (left), showing off its jizz to full effect.

The 2w bird - subtle yet distinctive. The p10 mirror is visible on the underside of the far wing.

Monday 7 March 2011

Some 1w Thayer's Gulls (California, December 2009)

Derek - hope these help our discussion....

This one looks slightly odd, but i think it is simply because I've caught it here in an alarmed, nervous pose.

Extreme of Common Gull wing tip pattern

I had this bird with an extreme amount of white in the primaries (note especially P8) at the weekend. Great looking bird, but unfortunately I cant make it into anything but a canus.

Sunday 6 March 2011

Herring Gulls: variability in first and second winter birds

This is another example (several already this winter) of a rather dark tailed second winter Herring Gull. It appears to have moulted out some of the more barred upper tail coverts, so feathers here are a mix of white and barred ones. The same bird is shown below.
The same bird as above. Just a rather typical 2w herring, except for the tail.

The same bird as above.

Gull watchers in USA are on the hunt for Vega. Key to this, especially on the east coast, is separation from European Herring. Various subtle ID features have been mooted for Vega in first winter plumage, but before this we need to fully appreciate the variability in Herring Gulls. This small contribution illustrates differences in overall colour and especially the tail and rump patterns of Herring. The bird above is rather white tailed, with a narrow dark terminal band and and 2-3 clear bands more basally (formed by dark crescents) - overall, a pattern rather like a Rough-legged Buzzard.

A rather everage tail and rump pattern, with the dark terminal 'band' more than half of the total tail area and white restricted to basal triangles

Slightly more than average black in tail, and a well barred rump and upper tail coverts

A milky-coffee bird.

The same milky bird.