Monday, 5 August 2013

Wonderful Waders, Glorious Gulls and Sweet Swallows...

Black Hole Marsh just keeps getting better!  Still no rares, but waders on it this morning included several Black-tailed Godwits, Redshank, Common and Green Sands, 56 Dunlin, 24 Ringed Plover, one Little Ringed Plover, one Ruff and a Greenshank.

Part of the small wader flock

Amongst the small gulls Phil picked out a colour-ringed juv Kittiwake. Bit of an odd record, and I was a bit gutted I didn't see it from the house as it would have been a cracking house tick! Anyway, here it is...

My first juv Kittiwake of 2013. You can't see the rings but I've sent the details of (hopefully to the right place!)

Later on, another visit to Black Hole Marsh was mainly to have a look through the resting gulls on the Axe Estuary, and I soon picked out two juv Yellow-legged Gulls. One disappeared soon after I spied it, but the other showed well for ten or so minutes. It was interesting to see this bird had more white on the tips of the tertials than the 'classic' juv YLG...

An 'almost classic' juv Yellow-legged Gull

So the tertials may not be bang on - but everything else was. The most clinching feature visible on the above photo are the second generation mantle feathers.  Here's a closer look at them...

Two of them are very clear to see

First of all, notice the colour of them; The dark bits are almost black, compared with the lovely warm brown of the other mantle and wing feathers, notice the broad white areas near the tips too. Then there's the pattern of them; Lovely anchor shapes and nothing like the plain juvenile mantle feathers. Scroll up and have another look at the top photo again - can you spot them now?

So, next time you hear the term second generation mantle feathers, this is them! And this is what to look out for to absolutely clinch a juv Yellow-legged Gull at this time of year.

The other onithological action for me today was taking another look at one of my Swallow breeding sites. The second brood is well underway, although one nest just had eggs in. Another nest had four naked and blind young in, but a third nest had four larger juveniles in - which I ringed...


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