Monday, 20 November 2017

Pennington Flash gull roost

Another day at the gull roost, another fine selection of birds. I suppose that to most people who don't do the roost it would appear that there is only one regular yellow-legged gull at the flash at the moment, that being the 3rd winter individual which is often seen standing on bouys or robbing coots.

Actually though, there are two regular yellow-legged gulls, the other is this cracking adult which has been roosting at the flash for around three weeks at least. It stands out every bit as much as the 3rd winter bird, having a pure white head and being a couple of shades darker than our typical 'British' herring gull, but nowhere near as dark as lesser black-back, not even the pale British race Larus fuscus graellsii. A pitfall in the New Year is the Scandinavian race of herring gull, Larus argentatus argentatus, which is darker than the British herring gull and at that time of year can have a white head, but at present in November, most argentatus have heavily streaked heads with a very aggressive appearance. A few argentatus regularly roost at the flash over the winter, but with practise even in the New Year they can comfortably be seperated from yellow-legged gull just on structure and jizz.

White head, dark mantle, distinctive head shape and slightly longer wings give this adult yellow-legged gull a unique appearance amongst the gulls at the flash at the moment. The only bird it could be confused with is the 3rd winter yellow-legged gull!

Adult yellow-legged gull and lesser black-backed gull L.f.graellsii.

The third winter yellow-legged gull was near the yacht club at 2:30pm today. I usually see it in the east bay or on the bouys next to Horrock's hide. Again, look at how white this birds head is.

This 2nd winter Iceland gull turned up in the east bay at about 3pm, the first time it has been seen at the flash since the initial sighting nearly two weeks ago. Presumably the same bird has been seen twice at Viridor Recycling Centre,Chanters Industrial Estate Atherton, and this may even be the returning bird from last winter.

I usually head for the gap at the east bay first because a lot of the birds drop in here first and spend an hour or so bathing before they fly to the west end of the flash for the roost proper. Sometimes it pays off like today, sometimes it doesn't, but if it does, the birds are usually a lot closer and can be seen in better light conditions.

I love this photo. This was taken at around 3pm, so not exactly dusk, but the bird was still a fair distance away from where I was standing on a very dull day. Anybody who was at the flash in the afternoon could easily have seen this from the slip way on the opposite bank.

Adult Mediterranean gull. Always a pleasure to see, there have been at least three Med gulls at the flash over the past couple of weeks. This was in the pre-roost in the east bay.

A pitfall for the unwary, a leucistic black-headed gull, Not only is its plumage much paler than the other black-headed gulls, its bill is distinctly more red.

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