A noticeable increase in Common gulls around at the moment, especially in the evening harbour roost but also at Shakey beach. Among them a 2nd Winter heinei – A subspecies I’ve looked for for ages and have seen many lookalikes and ‘almosts’.
The bird shows one of the diagnostic primary patterns and in conjunction with limited head streaking contrasting against a nice boa of fine neck streaks and a brighter bill. Darker mantle tone along with a long winged appearance and flight style plus dark marks on the outer greater coverts, all indicative of heinei.
A bird showing a P9 mirror that extends onto the outer web must also show a black band on p4 and no white tongue tip to p7.
Im sure Russian common gulls are present in winter in larger numbers than we think and February is a good time to look at common gulls as numbers build so i will put some effort into looking at them and perhaps see another before spring.
With no work to go to at the moment I’m making the most of the Gulls, which seem to be abit hit and miss. I drew blanks at Shakey beach for almost 2 weeks only to see 5 CaspianGulls in one day on the 31st December, the same can be said for Deal which seems abit better at the moment. Perhaps a little influx of gulls is upon us.
Below are a few 1st winter from Shakey on a very windy day, hence the sea spray all over the lens!
Below: 2 caspian and 1 YLG (bottom bird), the left hand Casp is a Czech yellow ringed individual 03C:U
A couple of Casps from Deal in the past few days. Gerald S has seen a half a dozen or so recently.
Above a large 1st Winter and below a delicatly plumaged 2nd Winter. Lovely stuff
On the subject of Gulls I had a decent looking candidate for heineior RussianCommonGull fly through the harbour earlier today. Unfortunately it didn’t come close enough for better photos detailing trailing edge to the uderwing but seems to a nice clean head and bright pink bill base and neck shawl aswell and the darker primaries secondaries and reduced inner primary window not shown by most ‘heinei lookalikes ive seen in the UK. perhaps ill see it again.
If you’re interested in RussianCommonGulls check out last month’s Birdwatch Magazine, I wrote an article on how to identify them:
Just before Christmas Rob R found a Hume’sleafwarbler at Pencester Gardens along the river Dour in the middle of Dover. Ive only just today been to see it and its an excellent example of the species. My sixth in the UK and third within a few miles of home, its about time I found one!
Vocal and showing nicely low down aswell as feeding at the tops of bare sycamores. Also present were 2 Blackcaps and 2 Chiffies, obviously a decent little spot for wintering insectivorous birds.
A walk along the cliff tops and into the valley was pleasant but mostly quiet. A 1st Winter CaspianGull circled along the cliffs from st Margarets and I believe there are at least 12 Firecrest in the valley at the moment, I’ve also flushed a Woodcock out of the hollow wood twice in recent visits.