Monday, 9 December 2019

Back to Gull School

Sometimes, just sometimes you have to hold your hand up and admit that you got it wrong.

I found this bird loafing around Alexandra Lake on Saturday and quickly came to the conclusion that it was a 2nd-winter Yellow-legged Gull, not an uncommon site on the Flats as there's been a couple of birds seen on and off throughout the Summer/Autumn. I got home, grabbed some lunch and then took my son to see Spurs v Burnley (great game by the way and a contender for goal of the season from Heung-Min Son) - then, that evening after the game I tweeted out the photo below as a 2nd-winter Yellow-legged Gull. Within a couple of minutes I was quickly questioned on it's parallel sided bill (David Darrell-Lambert) who had also copied in most of London's pre-eminent laraphiles and then soon after Rich Bonser chips in with "Casp genes for sure, and bill structure favours it too. Can't see anything on P10 to decipher a mirror or not, while the slight bit of streaking round the eye could point to a bird from the west of the range. But Casp, yeah".

I had to take stock and looked at the photo again in a bit more detail and sure enough, how did I miss that bill! Not just the bill but the bird also looks quite leggy, and structurally it's no way near as bulky as you might except a Michahellis to be. It also has that slimmer more elegant look about it - again, more in keeping with Cachinnans. 

I tried to blame whole episode on my fuzzy head after a Friday evening down the pub, but to be fair I just made a quick assumption without carefully looking at the bird - lesson learnt! On the plus side it's great to see another Caspian Gull at Wanstead and in 2nd-winter plumage - all my previous records are of 1st-winter birds.

Gulls, Wanstead, London
2nd-winter Caspian Gull
The one that almost got away!

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