Tuesday 29 November 2011

International Gull Meeting, Croatia, Feb 2012.

The next International Gull Meeting (IGM) will be in Croatia early next year. It promises to be great fun. Luka has asked if I can encourage anyone interested in attending to look at information on the talks and field programme that be found at:

It promises to be great meeting.

(the bird above is a heuglini, photographed in Azerbaijan this Sept. If time permits I will show show some pics of other gulls from this trip at the meeting).


Tuesday 22 November 2011

Kumlien's conundrum

The bird currently in Scotland (the 'Dunbeg Gull') is really forcing our understanding of Kumlien's-Thayer's ID. This post shows a few birds that might help the discussion. First are some examples what I think are acceptable Thayer's (birds 1 to 6), all from California. These are followed by some problematic cases.

Bird 1
Bird 2.

Bird 3.

Bird 4

Bird 5.

Bird 6. And finally a dark end Thayer's.

Bird 7. Looks like Kumlien's but it is at Petaluma, California!

Bird 7. Showing inner primaries

Bird 8. Another pale bird from California (January). It is rather fresh so pale tones are true pigment rather then wear/bleaching . To me more likely to be pale Thayer's, but clearly would not be acceptable in Europe.

Bird 8 again.

Bird 9. California. Not sure what this is. Looks more like a Kums, but could be some large gull hybrid combination (maybe some Glaucous-winged genes?). Arrowheads in prims indicate that it is not/should not be ID'd as Thayer's

Bird 10. What I think is a pale end Thayer's. Very like an Irish bird from a few years ago that was considered unidentifiable in a European context.

Bird 11. Presumed dark Kumlien's, Newfoundland. But still has arrowheads in prims.

Bird 12. darkish Kumlien's, Newfoundland.

Bird 13. Mid-darkish Kumlien's, Newfoundland. Not really like a Thayer's

Bird 14. dark Kumlien's Newfoundland; dark but again not really Thayer's like.

Bird 15. Mid-range Kumlien's, Newfoundland.

Bird 16. Darkish Kumlien's Newfound. Despite being darker than average, this and the other NF bird never quite manage to look like Thayer's (in flight, their wings are rather too uniform). But there are darker birds out there - Dave Brown who lives at St Johns has some really scary pics. The birds that really throw me are the paler Californian ones that look like mid-paler end Kumien's.

Sunday 13 November 2011

'Sailed eiders', Ythan Estuary, 9 Oct 2011

Eiders are at their most fresh just after the moult and so this is a good time to look for sails. Wear can make sails look tatty, and as the winter progresses it can become increasingly difficult to establish what their true shape is/was. This set of images shows 6 different sailed birds from the Ythan estuary, all photographed on the same day. But to start with, above and below are two unsailed birds.

A non-sailed bird with a dull bill.

This and the birds that follow show a variety of sails shapes, bill colours and head profiles.

Sailed bird in background, but near bird shows nothing of any significance.

Sailed females are rare here - Ive seen less than 5 in total. These two birds are not sailed.