Saturday, 24 December 2016

Chacombe: Tricky gull ID challenge

Boxing Day update!  I've had some very helpful feedback on the identification of the gulls in the youtube clips below, indicating they are Herring Gulls not Caspian Gulls.  So I've edited this entry, reflecting I'm still on a learning curve with this species, and need to see some more!!

Thanks to the excellent work of John and Gareth yesterday - John first tracking down a 1st Year Caspian Gull at Chacombe, then Gareth finding a 2nd Year Caspian Gull at Grimsbury Reservoir in the roost at dusk - I made a further effort to find the species this morning in the Chacombe area.  I have spent quite a bit of time looking for them this autumn, without any luck, so I was not overly optimistic.  So it was a pleasant surprise to find two potential Caspian Gulls in the same cattle field, albeit at opposite ends.

I quickly grabbed some phone-scope footage before the inevitable happened and they flew off! This is quite a tricky site to watch, the birds are a bit flighty and view points very limited.  I am still learning a lot about gull ID especially Caspian, so it was great to be able to compare with the footage with that from yesterday.  The footage seemed to indicate that these were the same birds, but observers with more experience have spotted that they lack key features for Caspian, and are actually different birds to those seen yesterday.  This is a bit disapponting (and embarassing), but also shows the value of grabbing images or video to enable greater scrutiny of birds like these.  Hopefully it won't be too long before I can get some better views and a definitive sighting on the local patch!

There are exceptional numbers of "large" gulls in this area at the moment, I estimated about 2000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 100 Herring Gulls and three Yellow-legged Gulls.

part of the A361 gull flock near Chacombe, Northants
Finally, for gull fans, some footage of the albino Herring Gull at Grimsbury Reservoir a couple of weeks ago.

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