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An individual, of no great importance, who is unable to the see the natural world as a place for competition, that was until Covid-19 intervened!. I catch fish, watch birds, derive immense pleasure from simply looking at butterflies, moths, bumble-bees, etc - without the need for rules! I am Dylan and this is my blog - if my opinions offend? Don't bother logging on again - simple!


Sunday, 20 January 2013

More stuff about (what I don't know about) gulls!

The view from my study is of a very snowy scene, the Newland's Farm, traditional flint built, Kent-peg tiled, barn, clearly visible. The most obvious feature in our garden is the Norway Spruce that Gadget & Anne gave Bev and I as a wedding present in 2003. I hope that this explains why Benno & I didn't bother going piking today and why I've not bothered scouring the fields of Newland's Farm.

Looking west from our kitchen door, the snow covered roof of the Kent-peg, tiled, barn can be seen in the distance
I didn't fancy the drive down to the Royal Military Canal, so Benno didn't take much persuasion to give it a miss. My offering today, therefore, is from the archives and revolves around my love of gulls, and their geographic populations, which I have been privileged to encounter during our holidays around the Mediterranean.

Adult Yellow-legged Gull - Gran Canaria (January 2004)
I have been fascinated by the gulls (larids) of our region since I received a copy of the (2nd edition) P.J. Grant  - Poyser - Gulls; it was around 1990 - I know that I was still living in Hemel Hempstead and spent many hours looking at the winter gull roosts at Brogborough/Stewartby (Beds) and Wilstone (Herts).Some of the most perceptive birders, I've ever been lucky enough to meet, plied their trade around these inland waters - nameless, yet I have to be thankful for the time I spent within their company.

Lesser Black-backed Gulls - but where do they come from? Gran Canaria - Jan 2004
Moving to the coast, ensured that my interest was re-kindled, and my focus was again on the subtleties of the plumage phases of year groups within a single species - Herring Gulls being particularly easy to get involved with. It was great to be able use the literature and clinch an id; Herring Gulls being the most numerous species around our area. Being able to use the various components of bare part colouration and plumage features, I became quite comfortable with my ageing skills. However, all of this went to rat-shit when I encountered winter visitors to our area, or travelled to the east, nothing made sense any more! I quickly found that the various populations of "common" gull species all exhibited traits that allowed recognition away from their natal area. I don't mean that I knew where they originated, but I certainly was able to recognise plumage features which meant that they hadn't been from a local breeding colony. I even got into an E-debate with a guy from Northern Ireland about the wing-tip pattern of an adult Herring Gull in Belfast Harbour (it was chasing an Iceland Gull) - how sad is that?

An adult C-R Auduoin's Gull - Mallorca June 2007 (The best looking gull in the Western Palearctic?)
 The enjoyment of gull observation is not in what we know, but instead, the realisation of how little we understand this complex group of species. I have encountered many individuals which caused me much head scratching - some have eventually provided answers, others remain in the "pending" file!

A white-winger - found by Barry Hunt at Joss Bay. Is this a coarsely marked 1st winter Iceland Gull or, as I suspect,
 a 1st winter Kumlien's Iceland Gull?


The most frustrating gull of my time at Ramsgate Harbour. It turned up during a period of cold weather in 2006.
Very obviously a Herring Gull (type) it was the size of a large Common Gull, with bright ,bubble-gum pink legs and a very attenuated horizontal profile. I have seen nothing similar before or since - so just one of those mysteries gull watchers have to be aware of. Not everything will fit neatly into a specific box.

1 comment:

  1. Re the origins of the Lesser Black-backs in gran Canaria. The ringing recoveries me made in the Gambia back in November were off Netherlands origin, so perhaps yours maybe from the same area. A ringed Sandwich Tern also with the LBBGs was ringed in East Fife Scotland!