Sunday, March 16, 2008

The white-winged gull

Interruption to the daily tales from Scotland. I have now solved the problem of my mysterious white winged gull.
Edit: It appears I haven't!
Birdguides thought it might be a 2nd winter Med Gull.There were no other reports to Birdguides on that date - and it seems as that part of the coast is regularly watched I may be mistaken.So be it - I can only report what I saw, altho I did make notes at the time- for now I shall record it as a gull species.....but as I am not an expert on gulls(never claimed to be) I shall just remember this trip with the mysterious gull unexplained!

I wonder what that gull was?

On my train journey to Aviemore from Edinburgh I was busy watching the outside world.
My first journey on a train on this particular route.
Its a really interesting journey. First through Edinburgh and then along the coast - the north of the Firth of Forth.One travels across the Firth of Forth on the rail bridge as apposed to the Forth Road Bridge. That bridge has been made famous by the story of as soon as they finish painting it they have to start again! I read somewhere that this time they have got some clever paint that means it doesn't have to be done for some time. Must go and find that tale.(Sounds like turkey's voting for Christmas from the companies point of view. I expect the tax payers in Scotland are pleased.)

I digress ....

I was travelling between Inverkeith and Kirkcaldy - birding as I went when we reached Kinghorn Station and we went through very slowly I spotted a flock of Seagulls , mainly Herring Gulls- and I spotted a white winged Gull!

Now I was looking out for different gulls particularly large ones after my recent successes with finding a Caspian Gull and generally watching and seeing a variety of Gulls.

NB note my new hobby is looking at gulls, something I used to find so daunting that I didn't! I waited for friends to say there is a xxxxxxxx and looking ! Very lazy but honest.
Last year I began trying to id - I felt fairly confident with Glaucous Gulls having
been able to see them regularly ...starting from my first juvenile self found on the Isle of Sheppey in 2004.....when it decided to fly over me!
They are so stonkingly big as well!

It has helped birding with Bob who fortunately has been seriously birding for the last 30 years and is very experienced.He helped me find my Caspian in that we were at Dungeness and he had seen the juvenile before I spotted it but he let me find it and go through the salient id features before saying he had seen it! Very helpful learning technik (sic).

This is by way of background.

A birding friend from birding forums BBF and BF also has helped my gull interest! You know who you are Shifty!He recommended a couple of Gull id books.

Back to the WW Gull.
I spotted a very different gull amidst the Herring Gulls, and was thinking Iceland as that was what I was looking for - for my year list. Well this Bird was white all over - so I thought thats no Iceland! So I watched it and noted some details, black legs, white with black spots on the tips of feathers on its wings with a dark face.
Black spots on the tail like a band but not as obvious a band as in birds of prey.

Best description would be like someone had dipped the ends of the feathers in paint! They were not splodged or streaked.

Well that was what i had as notes....I had an overall impression.It was smaller than the Herrings and much bigger than a BH Gull.It appeared to be a "sparky" bird holding its own amid the biggies.I was aware of its black legs.

So what is it?

I searched the Seabirds book at my Hotel but as i was thinking Iceland - I looked there and it defo wasn't that- nothing seemed to fit.

Then I got carried away with the Scottish birding - the Bird Race and visits to Findhorn Valley - but when we saw an Iceland Gull in Aviemore I remembered it all again.

I did not realise the significance of the black legs until Shifty emailed about them!

I returned home and began getting my notes and pics together.
On Thursday I went to Barnes WWT and was in the bins and scope shop when I spied the Gull book....Olsen and Larsson.It looked really good and despite being expensive I purchased it on the recommendation of Shifty!

Later that day I was flicking through the book admiring the photos and the illustrations when I spotted my bird...yes the photo leapt off the page...whats that?

It was an IVORY gull! 1st winter juv. I compared my notes and it was an Ivory! Wow lifer!
Hang on better check what else could it be......couldn't find any other white gull with those black spots in the pattern they were!

Wish I had had my camera for a record shot.

NB I did know what an Ivory Gull adult looked like - it was the juvs I dont remember seeing(noticing on film or in photos).

I was not expecting or looking for an Ivory Gull but I know I have seen one now!

Pleased I am really excited!

Now I want to see an Adult! - in real life I mean!
(Technical points the black was on the primaries, outer wing-coverts and tail feathers.)

By chance i have found a page from someones blog about an Ivory juv and an Iceland Gull in Ayrshire!


Nora said...

Gulls are so hard for me to identify...I would love to see a white-winged....we have the glaucous-winged here but we have seventeen different kinds and I get them all in a muddle!! Cheers. (I think we have the same Surf Scooter as below there)

Eagleseagles said...

And i want to see a Glaucous-winded!
I think you have the same Surf scoter as they are natural with you!


Eagleseagles said...

I mean glaucous -winged

not winded altho if it got here it might be!!!!

Anonymous said...

So sneaky, you have posted your lifer at last! the IVORY GULL. Will make a Gull birder of you yet LOL.

Eagleseagles said...

There appears to be many who doubt my sighting---Birdguides suggested what I saw was a 2nd winter Med gull.
All I can say I saw a gull that I hadn't seen before, made notes and later I saw a photo of a gull that matched.
I shall have to be content with gull species.

Anonymous said...

So you have a few who doubt your sighting sneaky, you know what your sighting was. As for saying you have seen a 2nd winter Med Gull!! they are having a laugh, maybe their colour is green. Dont let them doubt yourself.