Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Caspian Gull

Yesterday wasn't the best of days for me.  First of all my laptop wouldn't turn on and kept telling me there was a critical error during start up and all programs may be lost - bugger. Then there was the loaf of bread I made, totally cocked something up and it was completely inedible. And thirdly an attempted ringing session, which ended with me ringing no birds, and a female Pheasant having made a massive hole half way up and half way along my newest 60 foot net. I also got very wet as I hastily took the net down during a sudden heavy rain shower, which is also when I stood in a cow pat.

I'm pleased to say today is a much better day, and my laptop has been fixed (I'm currently backing everything up!).  There was one upside to not having a laptop yesterday though - it meant I didn't waste my day staring at it!  And my third check of the Estuary gulls mid afternoon gave me a rather nice reward, a lovely first-winter Caspian Gull.  It was by the tram shed from 15:25-15:50, when it flew south towards the sea...

As first-winter Caspian Gulls go it was a pretty classic bird, nice and hefty in size, long-legged, long-billed, etc. In general it looked so pale (mostly thanks to the white head and pale grey mantle/scapular feathers), never would a Herring or Lesser Black-backed in first-winter plumage look this pale. This is what made me jump out of the car for the scope in the first place.

The only slightly different feature to what I am used to seeing was the faintly grey mottled flanks this bird showed, but I think I can explain this. We see most our Caspian Gulls here between Christmas and March when their necks, breasts and flanks are pure white, but this bird is much younger and could have been in full juvenile plumage less than two months ago. It did have clean white centre to the neck and breast, it was just the flanks and breast sides that had this faint mottling - I reckon give it a month and they will indeed be Daz white.

With the demise of the Not Quite Scilly blog, I best get a bit technical and explain exactly why this was a Caspian Gull in more detail. I hope this helps (click on the images to make them bigger and the text more readable)...


So with the gull taken into account, and the fact my laptop is fine, was yesterday really that bad?  Well it sure could have been worse...

Near Boshill Cross this morning

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