A new spot along the river for me and good first visit. This German ringed 1cy Caspian Gull was hiding behind a cormorant for the first 20 mins after my arrival. Light conditions were very changeable and poor for photography at the best of times. I’ve not seen this age in September before so the developing scapular pattern is fairly unfamiliar to me, but through bins the bird had the 4 couloured appearance of; white head and underparts, grey tones appearing in the mantle, brown coverts and tertials and black primaries and bill. This stands out more in birds post October.
The last two shots showing the pale underwing, broad un-tapering tail band and almost un-marked upper tail. Diffuse Wing bars made by the pale tips to greater and outer median coverts Also broader more patterned window than i’d expect on a Yellow Legged gull, of which there were a few individuals.
I have contacted the Ringing project leader and will post the birds ‘story’ when i receive it.
I originally had this bird down as a Caspian gull, this ID seemed the best fit on account of its very white underwing, the solid greater covert pattern and the ‘soft focus’ appearance of the replaced wing coverts and scapulars as opposed to the heavier marked and more contrasty remaining coverts of 2cy Yellow Legged Gulls at this time of year. It obviously also shows the features that are shared by both Yellow Leg and Caspian gulls of this age.
I’ve seen it since a couple of times and have had doubts as to whether it might just be a clean looking Yellow Legged Gull with a plain white axiliaries and white underwing.
The views I had originally were mostly from a position situated below the bird, fairly brief and in dying light. Here are the problems ; The overall Jizz (the main thing thats bugging me), The iris is paling (which you can just see in a couple of the photos below and the last time I saw it the iris was even paler, almost bright.) Also no mirror on p10 (growing), not all Caspian Gulls at this age show it but it is apparently very rare in Yellow Leg, the bill is probably within range of Cachinanns but more suited to Michaellis. All this means its going down as a Yellow Leg, possibly with Cachi influence. Comments welcome
I came across this small mucky looking Yellow-Legged Gull the other day on the Thames foreshore at North Greenwich. The ring itself being yellow made me think of recent photos of rung Caspian Gulls and how this bird may have come from that part of the world rather than other young YLG ring recoveries I’ve heard of being from southern France along the Mediterranean .
It was rung as an unfledged Pullis at Neuenburger See in Switzerland on the 11th of May. Its so interesting to get these further afield recoveries, especially so close in date and far in distance. Its quite an atypical looking, Small bird,resembling Lesser black backed in a few features but looking nice having moulted 85% of it scapulars and window in inner primaries etc.
Numbers of Yellow Legs seem to have dropped a little at Greenwich in the last two visits, and I’m still to see a Caspian gull this season. The remaining birds however are looking beautiful as they approach first winter plumage.
The below bird was only seen in flight, taken at first for a juvenile YLG, closer inspection of the image showed it to be a 2CY bird. The iris is starting to become pale, P9 and P10 are growing, all wing coverts and tertials replaced as well as tail and adult grey feathers coming through in a few scaps.
Below is a Juvenile YLG in a similar flight position for comparison, taken in Marseille in Early August.
We struggle for good autumn migrants on the patch. Wanstead seems to pull in all the Redstarts and Pied Flys. So when David, Paul and Lol found a Spotted Flycatcher in the sheltered area along the central path, I made sure I paid it a visit the following day. Surprisingly it was still there and joined by two others. Rarely sitting out in the open the birds stayed within cover for most of the time I watched them.
David had seen a Wheatear on the Lockwood and a few common warblers, as well as five or so Swift feeding over Banbury. A group of mostly juvenile Gulls on the causeway between number four and five reservoirs held a nice Yellow-Legged and Great Black-backed, both juveniles. The Yellow Leg stayed out of camera range and is the third juvenile I’ve seen this year.
Juvenile Great-Black back
Goldcrests seem to have bred on in or near the pub carpark this bird and several juveniles were in a tit flock nearby the other day.