Sunday, 7 December 2014
1st Winter Caspian Gull at Gresford Flash Wrexham - First for Wales.
Here's a few shots I got of the 1st winter bird at Wrexham yesterday. Thanks to Kev Smith et al for the heads up as I was on my way to Liverpool and in Abergele at the time of the call. There have been no accepted records of Caspian Gull in Wales yet so this should represent the first record for Wales.
After being informed about some dispute over the age of this bird I phoned my mate Dave Fairhurst in Suffolk. Both ex-Billinge YOC boys from St Helens we've been mates for years. He's an excellent Suffolk/Shetland birder and has a great knowledge of Caspian Gulls having spent way too much time in the Pig-fields of Suffolk over the years (watching gulls I hasten to add)!
He said it's a 1st winter as it has big black tertials with a thin white edge. 2nd winters have more white and less black, He said for first winters if you chop off its primaries and tail the biggest black bit is it's tertails. If it was a second winter there would be more white! The striking white pale head contrast with the rest of the body is a first winter thing. They are the easiest age of Caspian gulls to do. Also, the dense neck streaking / collar is the best feature for a first winter Caspian Gull.
Second winters would also probably have a pale eye by now. Second winters would also have a massive amount of white in the tertials, almost half dark half white. Herring gulls are more barred on Second winters. On the back of second winters the scaps are mostly grey with a few old retained blobby bits. Our bird is mottled! Basically second winter Caspian gulls are plain with a few spots. Also second winter birds are paler at the base of the bill, with that Glaucous gull like contrast.
The front end of our gull is classic Caspian. White contrasting head and neck with a long sloping forehead and long slender bill. A yellow legged gull would have a different shaped head and more streaking.
To summarise it's a first winter Caspian Gull, a first for Wales.
Thanks to the finder - who found it, was it Kev?
Thanks to Dave for his comments.
I have to make tea now so will spell-check later.
ps. By the way last weekend was the best weekend in Suffolk for Caspian Gulls, 16 birds in 4 days, so it's not surprising that they've finally reached us!