Friday, 26 January 2018

A week at the roost 20th - 26th January 2018

Caspian Gull, 2nd winter. 
It might not be the largest roost in the area, but the Pennington Flash gull roost certainly keeps delivering at the moment, though nothing is ever certain. Over the past seven days an amazing 11 species of gull have been present at one time or another, with the 2nd winter Caspian gull the star attraction and drawing the crowds from far and wide.

The Caspian gull has been seen in the roost on four out of the past seven days, and other regular scarcities being recorded are 2nd winter Iceland gull on six out of seven, 3rd winter yellow-legged gull on four out of seven and adult Mediterranean gull on five out of seven.  Two other species have been new into the roost this week and have been single day birds, an adult little gull on Saturday and a 2nd winter kittiwake on Thursday, the latter being a new species at the Flash for me. What's not clear is where the gulls roost when they are not roosting at the Flash.

It's not just about the gulls though, distantly a small starling murmuration of a thousand or two birds is often over Ramsdales reedbed, whilst the usual 800 - 1000 jackdaws swirl around over the gulls. All in all, it's a great experience!

Caspian gull, 2nd winter - note the long wings.
After initially being quite difficult to connect with and even more difficult to photograph, the Caspian gull has performed a lot better in recent days, even once landing on a buoy in the West Bay to allow us to see its legs for the first time.

Caspian gull, 2nd winter
Positive identification of Caspian gull requires a full suite of characters to be seen. In this photograph you can see the long wings, white head, white breast, black tertials, full breast, long legs, long slim bill and pear shaped head.

There have been at least two 2nd winter Caspian gulls at the flash this winter, both found by John Tymon, and I've also been lucky enough to have seen both. The first was a one day bird on 10th December 2017 and was much more advanced in terms of moult. It also had a glaucous gull like pink bill with a black tip. This bird was ringed as a chick in Germany from pure Caspian gull parents and is the bird which was recently seen at Shaw near Oldham which apparently roosts at Heaton Park reservoir where it was first seen as a 1st winter bird last year.

The bird which is currently coming into the Pennington roost was first found on 4th January 2018 and has been seen intermittently ever since. It's quite a retarded bird, with a mainly dark bill, unmoulted median coverts and heavier dark markings on the scapulars. It's also unringed!

Caspian gull, 2nd winter
In this photo note the white underwing.

The long bill and distinctive head shape are particularly noticeable in this photo.

2nd winter kittiwake. This is a typical time of year for kittiwakes to occur inland, especially after winter gales, but even so they are not common inland and this was my first at the flash.

The regular 3rd winter yellow-legged gull now sporting a bright yellow bill but still one of the most distinctive gulls at the Flash.

This dark hooded lesser black back came in late on.

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