Saturday, 3 March 2012

Birdingfrontiers Gull Day - gulls, scoters and sound recordings!

A distinctive 1st winter type Herring Gull that got Mr Garner quite excited - the all dark tertails and the plain brown coverts being a feature of American Herring Gull. Not a full set of chracteristics though I'm afraid with the structure and tail pattern of the bird wrong for this species.

Great to learn all about continental Cormorant and finding one in full view on the River Clwyd. This 1st year bird with it's white breast shows the subtle but clinching gular angle required to i.d. 'sinensis' Cormorant, while the shape of the pale patch on the face also clinches it as a Continantal Cormorant.

An interesting 2nd winter Common Gull. aged by the dark primaries and the bill colour, this bird also shows dark flecks in the coverts and dark marks in the tertials. The tail also had somne distinctive dark flecking in it - all features usually associated with 'heinei' Common Gull. Unfortunately the mantle colour was not particularly storm cloud grey. The opportunity to discuss and observe the bird means that we will be much more aware next time we come across such a bird.

Martin's sound recording equipment was tried and tested - wow! Imagine what binoculars do to seeing....this piece of equipment does the same for hearning, amplifying it by ten times! Imagine using one of these on the Orme, South Stack or Enlli during vis Mig!

Marting Garner and the North Wales Gulling crew.

A super day's learning today along the Conwy coast with Martin Garner of Although Gulls were a bit thin on the ground we did manage some good learning from the ones we did see. Up to seven Mediterranean Gulls were seen during the day, all except one being adults in varying degrees of winter to summer plumages. Many Common Gulls were watched with the ageing being the main focus. We did come across one interesting 2nd winter individual in Colwyn Bay which showed black marks on the coverts and terials as well as on the tail - a feature associated with Common Gulls from a long way east. The 'white' Common Gull was again present at Llandulas (see post on Feb 25th). Big gulls were in short supply, but again ageing of birds was discussed in length as well as moult timings and wing patterns. An interesting pseudo 'smisthonianus' Herring Gull was on the River Clwyd showing dark tertials and plain brown looking coverts - at least we know what to look out for now.
The Scoter show was spectacular offshore at Llanddulas / Pensarn with upwards of 30,000 birds wheeling about in the sky. Among them were 3 fine drake Surf Scoters, 12Velvet Scoter and a terrific flyby of 50+ Red throated Diver.
Thanks to Martin for a very educational day and to the nine learners that made the day fun.

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