Saturday, 11 November 2017


Back at Shawell today searching through the hordes. It was another good day as far as ring reading was concerned and plenty of Caspian Gulls were there again. In total, excluding hybrids, I saw eight Caspian Gulls: 2 adults, 2 second-winters and four first-winters.

Two German ringed gulls reappeared today, X312 which I first saw in April was looking even more hybrid like and I'm not sure about X739 yet, but that one seems a bit chunky.

German Ringed Presumed Hybrid Caspian Gull (X312)

Two adult Caspian Gulls were seen. The first was a real stunner, but that one wouldn't sit still. The other one had pale eyes, however, its primary pattern was spot on for a pure Caspian Gull.

Adult Caspian Gull

First-Winter Caspian Gull

Saturday, 4 November 2017

First-Winter Caspian Gulls

By far the most regular age groups of Caspian Gull at Shawell are first and second calendar year. This year juveniles were the most numerous in early autumn and now its mainly first-winters.

Today I saw four first-winters and one second-winter.

As I've probably said before, Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls are usually born before Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, so they advance quicker. Basically Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls stand out because they replace their scapulars sooner than the other two species and they have often replaced some coverts before the end of their first calendar-year. The first one below has replaced one of its median coverts on the side visible in the photo. The next two have replaced many coverts including greater coverts.

First-Winter Caspian Gull, Cotesbach Landfill Site, November 4th 2017

First-Winter Caspian Gull, Cotesbach Landfill Site, November 4th 2017

First-Winter Caspian Gull, Cotesbach Landfill Site, November 4th 2017

Sunday, 29 October 2017

The Reappearance of HD430

Back in mid-August I read the colour ring on a first calendar-year Yellow-legged Gull at Shawell. I identified it in the field as a Yellow-legged Gull, but noted it was very fresh looking. I saw it again yesterday at Shawell and it has now moulted into classic first-winter plumage.

HD430 on August 12th 2017

HD430 October 28th 2017
There is up to 12 Caspian Gulls in the area including colour-ringed bird X477, which has been seen regularly since 9th September.

Very Small Adult Female Caspian Gull
Second Calendar-Year Caspian Gull

I was surprised to find a Common Gull still in juvenile plumage this late in the year. All the other first calendar-year Common Gulls were in first-winter plumage.

Juvenile Common Gull

Typical October First Calendar-Year Common Gull With Adult

Sunday, 15 October 2017

Gulls in The Algarve October 2017

Steve asked about the gulls after my trip report to Portugal didn't mention any.

Portimao has a large fish harbour, which of course attracts many gulls throughout the year. The temperature during my trip regularly reached 35 degrees C +, so maybe this was the reason there were fewer gulls around than normal. It appeared that the Lesser Black-backed Gulls had not arrived in big numbers.

That said on my first visit I noticed an 3cy Azorean 'type' Gull peering down on me from the rooftop. This is my Azorean at the portico fish harbour, but so far no decision has been made on the previous two, so I will wait a while before documenting it fully. The light was very bright, so it was difficult to reproduce the correct grey tone of the upperparts.

Many of the Yellow-legged Gulls frequenting the harbour and the beach where we stay at Praia da Rocha are ssp. lusitanius. 1cy michahellis are more advanced in their moult having also moulted some coverts by October. Lusitanius 1cy can be told by the lack of covert moult and usually their small size. It is easier in January/February when the differences are more obvious.

1cy Yellow-legged Gull (presumed lusitanius)
Amongst the Lesser Black-backed Gulls that had arrived I recorded colour-ringed birds from England, France, The Netherlands, Norway, Scotland and Wales. There were also some that had been ringed in Portugal.

HLP ringed by the Severn Estuary Ringing Group
Dutch ringed N||9 LBBG Enjoying an Early Morning Paddle
As well as the big gulls we did come across nine first-winter Slender-billed Gulls near Faro.

And of course a few Audouin's Gulls and some Med Gulls but these were shy this time around.

Saturday, 14 October 2017

Back to Shawell

At Shawell today I dropped straight back into the groove.

Eight Caspian Gulls today plus a German ringed hybrid that I saw last month. 5 1cy and 3 2cy.

Four German ringed gulls from the mixed colonies. Three looked good and the other was the hybrid mentioned above.

One was a new 2cy bird which posed nicely.

In addition I read an impressive 36 colour-rings.

2cy Caspian Gull X072

1cy Caspian Gull