Friday, 15 August 2014

Gull confusion

Oh dear, oh dear! And I thought I was ok, quite good even, at gulls. Now the trouble was that I had hurricane Bertha and westerly airflows in my head. So dead chuffed to find a nice Iceland Gull in the tideline scrum at Palace, after a bit of thought a 2cy, getting my head around a summer Iceland Gull was an interesting challenge.

Iceland and Common, showing similarity with head shape

Just I was getting ready to go to my dental appointment a rather odd looking juvvy gull appeared next to the Ice. I had my head in the West, the gull had a big, black, decurved bill, clearly a juvenile, wracking the grey matter I could only think of Laughing Gull. Now I had no idea what a juvenile Laugher would look like, but what else could it be with that hooter? I even texted it in, once I got somewhere with a signal, before taking a moment and realising that Laughing Gull is a dark grey thing and this gull had a very pale mantle. Quick consult of Collins (the battered hard copy, not the new app). Doh! It's a Med Gull.

It really is not a good idea to have any preconceived ideas when birding. Med Gull is rare here, despite a breeding attempt a few years back, there are just a couple or three a year on average. Egg now wiped off face..... Apologies sent to news distributor, fortunately I got a text off correcting my error before he got a text off putting it out. A very nice bird and educative. In my defense I'm not sure I've seen such a young Med before, maybe some 10 or 12 years ago in Cornwall.

My copy of Martin Garner's new book arrived today and I'm very, very impressed. Marked contrast to the new Helm Guide which is a bit of a disappointment to be honest - telling me to find an expert is just a cop out, pathetic actually. Martin's book is very well produced, great info and excellent illustrations. Go get a copy -

It's rained a tad here, well a lot, and the lovely muddy Shunan has disappeared, just wee tufts of grass poking out of the water are all that remain of the islands. So it's a tramp around to find the waders. A likely spot was discovered at Bosquoy yesterday, and it revealed 2 Ruff, a Redshank, 22 Snipe and an annoying smaller wader that flew off before I could get to grips with it. Couple more spots to check out, one of which will involve a serious battle with the vegetation. Not so far today though, a day spent buying floors.

Two new moths in the trap the other morning (Thursday) both micros; Acleris rhombana (10) and Acleris sparsana. Also Diamond-backed Moth Plutella xylostella.

 Rhomboid Tortrix

 Acleris sparsana

Plutella xylostella

New glasses have arrived, maybe I'll get those gulls sorted in future....

 Barley below the house

 Bosquoy, rain coming


Steve Gale said...

Well Alastair, I've never mucked a gull up, never, I ... (cough)... well, maybe once... or is it twice... erm... ooh, look is that a Kestrel over there (quick, change subject!)

Alastair said...

The latest of quite a few ID messes. I usually get there in the end! One of the things I really like about Martin Garner's new book is the statement that learning about ID comes through mistakes. Yes I very nearly screwed the Red-foot up too, last minute save with that as well. But my moth ID is improving, gradually....

Nick Carter said...

No shame in making a mistake mate, the problem is those that don't admit it! Most of my best lessons were learnt from mistakes.

Dave Sutcliffe said...

Great piece on the gulls Alistair and nice shots for comparisons. Great to get things right in the end !

Alastair said...

Thanks Dave