Tuesday, 23 December 2008

'whats that gull'

22/12/08 sheepwash urban park
soz only a quick post i got things 2 do( 2 do with christmas) the goosander total has increased 2 29 birds with quite a few males 2(i think this rivals the amount i saw a sandwell valley last winter) i saw 11 fly off in the direction of the valley at around 2pm so if any arrived at the valley at about 2:30 mabey that they were these birds.i think sheepwash is a real compettator against the valley.both these sites have records of spoonbill but sheepwash hade 3 and the valley only 1.sheepwash has had night heron but the valley has had great snipe.i would bet(no money) that with a few more observers sheepwash could become a truly urban oasis(it is surrounded with houses but the valley is more like a bit of countryside in the town and is packed with birders so therefore more things are found) soz no offence to any valley regulars.both are great sites and both are great places to watch nature.back 2 birds and more importantly the title.over on the albright and wilson pool there was an unusual gull.every time i scanned the end of the lake i kept on picking out this gull.it overall was larger than the herrings and lesser blacks with it but had the same shade back(if slightly darker)than the herrings.it looked very bright white compared to the herrings streeky head.its legs were a pinkish colour an were quite long.this bird was almost certinaly an adult or an advanced 3rd winter.thinking of id details of gulls from other blogs.now i was on the verge of calling caspian when i remembered i have no experience with caspians and am not a great gull watcher myself so i called my friend(who also isnt good at identifying gulls)and said to get onto this caspian type gull on the pipe. we watched it for a few minuites and then it started flying towardes the mound behind the pool(from the side with the lorries going up and down it all the time)all i noted now was a herring gull like wing pattern.it then flew over the mound and i didnt see it again.please could anyone help with this id i have no real littritue on caspian gull but the features dont match yellow legged or herring.if you can help please leave a comment.i dont care if you call me a dumbass for missing a feature for positive id but i dont know ive only being birding for 3 years and have only realy started taking notice of gulls and only found out about caspian a few monts ago.there are no real differences between the list for today but the highlights are:
pochard-7 goosander-29 the odd gull
there was also an unusual part of the day when we saw a lapwing swimming in the pumphouse pool never seen that before
what happened to my quick post
p.s- i didnt want to put out the news because i am not totaly sure with the identification its not going on my list and no photos were taken to back me up so it looks like its going in the one that got away bin


Martyn Yapp said...

Mmmm tricky tricky tricky.

Althought I still only have relatively limited experience with Caspian Gull you should get the "gut" feeling that you are looking at one and any doubts it ain't one, if you know what I mean.

You have to clinch all the features of Caspian to be sure, ie long-legs, the correct head jizz, small dark eye, bill jizz, leg colour and most importantly, the white tongue to P10. 3rd winter would still have some greyish neck and tail markings.

I have done Sheepwash a few times over the Christmas period and each time checked the gulls. I have not seen one, although there were not that many "Herring" types around, whilst I was there. Saying that I did have what I thought was a "white-winger" fly over on Christmas Eve. When I picked it up the damm thing showed for three or four seconds has it disappeared over the embankment.

I am experienced enough to "let it go" due to the crap views, but I did get a distinct tip on the bill and the bird appeared to be a "buscuit" 1st winter. The experience bit comes with that it was sunny, did I just see a trick of the light as some immature Herrings can appear pale from below.

Finally on Sheepwash there used to be a regular group of birders do Sheepwash, including myself. Between us we found loads of good birds including Pom Skua, Purple Sand, Long-tailed Duck, 17 Common Scoter, DUSKY WARBLER, yes DUSKY WARBLER, I can show you a picture of that well twitched bird. Not forgetting the wader passage that the place used to get before the trees, which included 5 Spoonbill, Wood Sandpiper, regular Turnstones, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Dunlins and Ringed Plover, guaranteed Autumn Greenshank. God I could go on. There are some bird reports knocking around somewhere, as we used to produce one. I am thinking of publishing them on the net, so watch this space.

Have you seen the Common Snipe on there. Up to 10 on Sunday.

Martyn Yapp said...

Check out Alan Dean's site at http://www.deanar.btinternet.co.uk/wmgulls/gullshome.htm , that might help.

Incidentally, Yellow Wagtail used to breed here and Stonechat used to winter, how times have changed. Unfortuanately for the worst, it is poor compared to then.

I had problems with leaving the place alone and even now I still have a pretty good list of birds down there. I miss it, but the waders used to be the draw.

Anything you need to know, don't hesitate to ask.

midlands birder said...

thanks for the help i need it with gulls and while were on the subject while out walking my local patch on sunday i found a b h gull with a brown head already but it was very dark and give the impression of little or bonapartes gull.it was in first summer plumage.
secondly about the reportes of rare birds at the 'wash' i already know about most them of them as i do a lot of research about the sites i visit( i was going to mention the warbler but i decided not 2 blabber on any more)and about that picture please could i have a look at it as i have only ever seen line drawings of it
p.s where on the 'wash' was the dusky
i have cheacked out that website and it is a great way to learn about gulls for beginers. i didnt see the snipe but where are they as i might try to see them this friday it would be a first at sheepwash 4 me