Is this a Caspian Gull in Cambridgeshire recently?
Is this a Caspian Gull in Cambridgeshire recently?
If I saw this here in Northern Italy I wouldn't hesitate to name it a Yellow-legged Gull and turn to the next gull...
Not sure from just those photos; it's hard to get a true representation of jizz (esp compared to any surrounding gulls) and you can't see the tail, rump and UTCs etc. Dick put a more detailed description on his site.
Compare to this (typical) 1cy bird I photographed in August and September:
The big problems are the moult and the general dirtiness of the plumage for me. I would even say it looks quite Herring-like in the second photo down. Weird structure, though.
I`m hesitant calling this a Caspian. This is mainly because of the pattern on the scaps and coverts. Caspian always has rather boring feathers there: brown (sometimes with an orange tinge) with a thin pale fringe. Nothing more. This bird has quite a differrent patter there, with anchors. The new scaps also show a for Caspian worryingly strange colour (brown instead of gey-ish). It is true that bill- and headshape, posture and the lengthy wings and legs recall Caspian but it takes more. A 1st year Caspian in oktober shouldn't be this juvenile and should show at least a pale(r) head.
So what is it? YLG is a possibility but also this species should be much farther in moult. It has however much more in common with this bird, especially the pattern on its scaps an wingcoverts. So I'm betting on this species.
Incidentally, there's a useful ID article by Martin Garner in the latest Birdwatch:
- Garner 2011. Identification: Caspian Gull photo guide. Birdwatch 233 (Nov 2011): 41-47.
I find structure of this gull as good for Caspian as it can get (difficult to judge from 3 pic alone - give and take headshape in the first pic. However, I agree with Rudy and Josh that it isnīt the so called 'classic' (WE) Caspian due to the plumage pattern mentioned.
I would def. want to see an open wing and a view of the tail. Tertial pattern is alright for Caspian. Itīs however, not unusual to see notched scapular edges in 1st cycle Caspian - http://www.pbase.com/slisch/image/81981919 - http://www.artportalen.se/birds/gall...?imageID=94295 - although we are more familiar with scapular pattern like this:
The visible lower juv scapulars in the subject gull might be on the heavy side for a true Caspian - more what would be expected for a Herring.
What would you think if you saw this one?
Although moult varies - I would expect in a Caspian at this time of year to see some more 2nd generation scapulars - more or less like in this one:
eapecially if we are to consider Yellow-legged...how about a Caspian x Herring?
BTW any more pic?
Last edited by JanJ; October 27th, 2011 at 07:18 PM.
of course I was not saying that this bird is a michahellis (I know how rare it is in England), I was just 'complaining' about the fact that if I see this gull while checking a huge group of white-headed gulls in the middle of a lake here in northern Italy I would much probably miss it as a Caspian.
What makes me not think to a Caspian is:
-the broadly notched greater and median coverts and their strong contrast (in the Caspian I usually see, even if they have broadly notched greater coverts (which seems to be rare) the dark and pale areas lack this contrast and seem to merge one in the other)
-the pattern of the scapulars, already discussed
-the jizz from just these 3 shots seems to me to be not too much dissimilar from that of some Yellow-legged Gulls I see here (please consider that much probably in winter we get some more 'eastern' michahellis here)
-quite darkish head that I know is ok for caspian, but it wouldn't help me to stop my eye on this
Within these days I'm going to show you some interesting individuals I got last winter of which I would really love to receive an opinion by you
got to say i'm with michele on this. habitually i seem to try to turn most border cases into caspian but now this bird gives a strong mich-feeling with its contrasting covert pattern. wide tertial edges are produced by "filled pale distal parts of tertials" which is a well known phenomenon in michahellis. another lanky fem type mich: http://lou.bertalan.de/gulls/pic/hi/up_0087.jpg . heavy spotted breast, GC pattern, apparently cold brown ground colour and dark smudge around eye all serve for this YLG effect. a view on its tail prob. would have solved the matter.
i think this http://www.elisanet.fi/hj.koskinen/1...10syyskuu.html is a good caspian, jan.
Having raised the original question, to generate debate of course, I will put my own view that this may be a mich.
I do not think we can use structure to tell mich and cach apart in these images, so that leaves plumage. I am aware of dark cach, but this seems just too far beyond what I would like, and especially coupled with what I see as atypical strong triangular notching on the inner greater coverts and scapular edges. Finally, I do not like the new scapulars that are beginning to grow through (visible on the third image) for cach; they have a gingery wash that I might associate with mich (or even arg), but not cach.
It is a shame we can't see more details on the tail, and I am concerned about the lateness of moult for both mich and cach.....
Remember this bird? http://www.surfbirds.com/forum/showp...1&postcount=10
you named two more things that may be of weight for the ID, gingery tones in 2.gen scaps, i'd add its pattern, and the tringular pattern in inner GC which to this extent is rather a pointer towards non-pure cach or/better mich and argentatus. for me, argentatus is out of realm.
a late moulting mich could stem from somewhere in holland or northern central europe? even in more southern or eastern populations late hatchers can look retarded into mid autumn. i have seen birds of both species (cach and mich) this late in scap moult, but only few, so this is a clear exception.