Sunday, 26 October 2014

Grimsbury Reservoir: yelllow-legged gulls

Not blogged for a few days now.  Last weekend I was birding with friends in Aberdeenshire, catching up with rarities like spotted sandpiper (from North America) and yellow-browed warbler (from Asia).  I was also great to see huge flocks of pink-footed geese at Loch of Strathbeg and eiders on the Ythan Estuary. 
pink-footed geese, Loch of Strathbeg

Eiders at the Ythan Estuary (plus common gulls in flight)
Meanwhile back in the local patch it has been fairly quiet, the main interest being the gull roost at Grimsbury Reservoit that is sometimes attracting yellow-legged gull and Mediterranean gull.  The size of the roost is quite variable, and dominated by black-headed gulls.  Lesser-black-backed gulls are also frequent, with a few common gulls now regular.

Twice now I have seen a yellow-legged gull in the roost, associating with the lesser-black-backs but standing out from the crowd with it's paler grey wing-feathers and relatively white feathering on the head.  Herring gull is very similar but has more streaking on the head and is a paler shade of grey.  These distinguishing features are important as the most distinctive feature - leg colour - is rarely visible in the roost as all the birds sit on the water.  The most recent bird, last Tuesday, also had a black marking on the bill, indicating it was not quite a full adult, though the plumage showed no vestiges of immature mottled feathering that I could see.  This photo is not great, but I think you can see this feature.  I have yet to see a herring gull in the roost so far this autumn.  I am not a great expert on gulls - still learning - so welcome any comments on the gull news/pics.
adult yellow-legged gull (front, left of centre)
Elsewhere, there are a few redwings in the hedgerows, but only a few, and no fieldfares.  Will be interesting to see when they arrive.  I imagine most of them are still in Scandinavia.  Also a couple of barn owl sightings along local roads, perhaps reflecting the good breeding season and young birds  now moving out of the established territories.

Finally, my photo of one of the great skuas at Grimsbury last week appeared in the pages of the Banbury Guardian.  They do give wildlife a good profile in our local paper, and cover environmental issues from time to time, which is good to see.

1 comment:

  1. Congrats on the publication of your Skua picture Mike.