Sunday, 30 January 2011

Net gains

This adult Mediterranean Gull landed very close to the ringing area. Interesting to note how the hood develops ...
... which is different to this second individual, another adult that I found as proceedings drew to a close.

Gull-watching is so often a solo activity at Rainham, and with the exception of Andy Tweed and a couple of the other regulars, there is rarely anyone else to chew the cud with. So yesterday morning it made a pleasant change to team up with the North Thames Gull Group for their ringing session on the landfill. The cannon-netting had already taken place by the time I got there, and Paul Roper and colleagues were beginning to process a catch of 411 gulls - more than half of them Herring (both argenteus and argentatus), plus four other species. Here's a few highlights, including Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls, from a productive morning.

If you were to judge gull ringers from the state of their hands, you might assume they were into self-harming. Perhaps in a way they are - this is probably not everyone's idea of a fun Saturday in the country.
Measurements were taken, and in more obvious cases underline the differences between argentatus and argenteus.
On a sample of birds a colour ring is placed on the right leg, in addition to a metal ring on the left.
It's a good opportunity to observe wing-tip patterns in detail. This is an argentatus - white tip to P10, unmarked P5.
Second-calendar-year michahellis Yellow-legged Gull, banded YL1T. Note the mainly unmarked tail with sharply defined black terminal band, upperwing pattern and white head.
Another second-calendar-year michahellis Yellow-legged Gull, banded YL2T. This is a more strongly patterned individual, with only the outer tail feathers unmarked above the tail band, and more streaking on the head.
I found this good candidate for a second-calendar-year Caspian Gull on the dump, although the underwing and underparts are darker than most I've seen here. Here's some shots of an even darker Caspo of the same age.
And finally, here's one I found earlier: Friday's second-calendar-year Caspian Gull, complete with Polish colour ring. This bird was ringed with code 65P6 as a chick by Pawel Kmiecik in a small but growing Caspian Gull colony near Dabrowa Gorniczay, Upper Silesia, on 20 May 2010. This is the first time it has been seen since.


  1. I've got a lot of catching up to do when it comes to understanding all the subtleties of gull identification, but your excellent photos of the Med and Caspo Gulls, as well as your other recent postings, will certainly help!

  2. Thanks for the comment, Factor - hope to see you out gulling over at Rainham sometime! Thanks also Gabi for the Caspian comment, and interesting how variable some first-years can be (especially the one on your blog!)



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