I spent all day at work today, so once I'd clocked off at 4.30pm I had a quick whiz round hoping for my first Wheatear of the year. Despite checking several sites I couldn't find one, so I spent the last twenty minutes of daylight watching gulls drop in at the lower end of the Estuary.
It was mostly small gulls, but among the larger ones were eight Lesser Black-backs and two birds that I am a bit puzzled by. I originally put them both down as HerringxLesser Black-backed hybrids, but now think bird one could be a pure Yellow-legged. If anyone thinks differently or has some views then please let me know. All photos were taken when it was nearly dark...
|Bird one again, with a Herring in shot to compare mantle shades|
|Bird two again|
Both are yellow-legged, albeit a dull yellow, which actually is fine for pure Yellow-legged or Lesser Black-backed Gulls of this age.
Bird one I'm pretty sure on bill and moult is a third-winter, but I haven't completely ruled out it being an advanced second-winter. It was the larger of the two yellow-legged birds being Herring Gull-sized, but short-legged, reminiscent of Lesser Black-backed Gull. The bird's mantle colour actually looked pretty spot on for a pure Yellow-legged Gull, I usually find these hybrids look the wrong shade of grey for YLG. I have to be honest and say I am struggling with this bird, but do think it could indeed be a pure Yellow-legged.
Bird two was built more like a Lesser Black-backed Gull in all proportions, and I think it's a second-winter despite the yellow bill. Again a short legged and cute headed gull, but mantle colour was a touch darker than bird one, more akin to the previous presumed HerringxLesser Black-backed Gulls that I've seen here.
Hmmmmmmm.... Gulls, who'd have them!
Away from these confusing gulls, there's still a decent variety of wading birds on the Estuary with Avocet, Greenshank and two Bar-tailed Godwits again present today.