Monday, 22 January 2018

Birding Interlude of the Frustrating Kind

I may well have let a pretty good bird get away this morning. Well, if you accept that gulls can be 'good' birds, that is...

It all started with Steve's Hawfinch Hysteria post the other day. I realised it was high time I got my finger out and made the effort to go and see one. I was working near Musbury this morning, so popped into the village and had a look near the church. I got okay views of two birds within about five minutes, but hung around a bit longer hoping for a better performance. When none was forthcoming I headed off to Seaton. Via the estuary...

At the moment Scilly is enjoying a little rush of Iceland Gulls, and what with all the unsettled weather we're having I am pretty sure one or two will be appearing on the Axe before long. I could see a bunch of big gulls on the grassy islands opposite Axmouth so pulled into the layby to have a quick look. From this vantage point the birds are some 400yards away but quite doable with bins for a white-winger. Anyway, no white-wingers, but...what's that rather white-headed 1st-wintery-looking thing right there? I was about to reach for my scope when I remembered I'd taken it out for the van's MOT last Friday and hadn't put it back. Agh! Bins alone weren't powerful enough and I just couldn't do anything with it. I considered phoning Steve, but didn't really want to have him out for what might be just a Herring Gull. So, as a last resort I unsheathed the old Lumix, wound it up to maximum zooms of every kind and fired away...

It's the one with open wings

Now it's the blurry one left of centre. Best I got of the head shape. It's leggy too.

Primaries very dark; tertial pattern looks good; pale wing-bars on the coverts

Look at that lovely black tail band! Wing pattern looks pretty good too...

I expect you've guessed by now. Yes, I cannot help thinking that I've let a Caspian Gull slip through my fumbly fingers. Personally I reckon these supremely dire photos actually present a reasonable case, but definitely not a watertight one!

Still, I'm open to persuasion...?

6 comments:

  1. More than enough there Gavo for me, looks like a lovely individual. Without that open wing shot I don't think you'd have enough, but for me with that you certainly do. Tibia look lovely and long too. Doesn't look to be ringed so not the recent Dawlish Warren bird, but guess it could be mine from a few weeks back? Although I would have expected to haven seen that a few times in between. I reckon this is #13.

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    1. Thanks v much for your comment Stevie, and especially for the endorsement of course! The more I look at the pics (and I only got six) the better it gets. The flight shot was pure jam.

      Strange feeling when you're seeing a bird far better on a laptop screen than you ever did with optics in the field! Needless to say, I have scope today! 😄

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  2. Looks good to me Gav, not the cleanest of underwings but well in range for Caspian.

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    1. Many thanks Mike. I suspect that the underwing would look a lot cleaner if there was some direct light on it. I wonder if that slight duskiness could be caused by shade (cf. dusky-looking flank in that shot with the photo below, and the flank visible in the flight shot)?

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  3. Yes, I think you are right. Hopefully you're persuaded now..

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    1. Thanks Mike, yes, I am. I'm a bit of a pushover really 😄

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