Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Juvenile Gulls

It's all gone now of course, but last week St. Swithin did eventually do his stuff, and weather resembling summmer did materialise.  Just in time to develop a most unpleasant cold, it's been absolutely horrible.

So with the dreaded lurgy and the beginning of the Olympics to enjoy, last weekend was expected to be a bit of a write-off on the birding front.  But last Friday evening, Andy found a juvenile Med Gull at Croxden Quarry, and was still present on arrival straight after work.

Then if that wasn't enough, after about half an hour an adult Med Gull flew in, cracking stuff!

Also present was the adult Yellow-legged Gull that's been coming and going from Croxden for a while now.

Another adult Yellow-leg was at Uttoxeter Quarry on Saturday afternoon, along with good numbers of Black Heads and Lesser Black-backeds, but other than that nothing out of the ordinary.  Then just when you think Sunday can be a day off and recover a bit, Andy goes and finds a Black-tailed Godwit at Uttoxeter.  Better have a quick look at it as it would be a quarry year tick.

As a matter of fact, it's the second Blackwit I've seen locally this year, and both in the same pose!  Before setting for home another scan of the gulls was done.  One of them was similar size to the Black-headed Gulls, had a plain, pale head, dark bill and a bit of a scaley pattern to the mantle and scapulars.  Great, another juvenile Med Gull, pictures taken and off home.

Then, when loading the photos on the computer and comparing it with the Croxden bird, pieces in the puzzle weren't fitting.  The pale front end looked ok, but bill wasn't right and the white edging to the mantle and scapular's scale pattern was nowhere near as pronounced as the Croxden bird.  So other than a Beecham's-influenced hallucination, what's going on?

Perhaps it was actually a juvenile Common Gull instead, but the more pictures I studied, and being under the weather, the more confused I got.  Thankfully after a few second opinions, the consensus is indeed that this is a juvenile Common Gull:

Although I must've done before at some point, I can't ever recall seeing a juvenile Common Gull like this one, looking so juvenile-like if you will, so close to home at the end of July.  When they usually appear later in the year they've all moulted into a first-winter plumage of course.  Am I worried about making a boo-boo, certainly not because everyone comes a cropper on gulls at some point.  When you get little experiences like this, in the flesh, you learn so much more from it.

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