Saturday, 15 January 2011

Here's hoping...

So, a Slaty-backed Gull has finally been seen in Britain, with a bird found in Rainham, London, yesterday and confirmed today. Well done to Dominic Mitchell of Birdwatch magazine for being the first to find this long-awaited Pacific species. Since it is unlikely that I'll be making my way down to London to see this bird, I'm hoping that it takes a shine to capital cities and heads up to Edinburgh (though I do hope it hangs around for those who are travelling to see it this weekend).

For gull seekers there are still plenty of species that haven't yet been seen in Britain. With every new addition, the list of possibles somehow seems to increase, as the vagrancy potential of the larger and more robust species is underlined. One species that appears to be spreading in this direction is the Kelp Gull, a southern hemisphere species that has colonised coastal Senegambia and now been recorded in Morocco. How long before the first European record I wonder? That said, it would be fairly easy to overlook... Here are a couple of shots of a moulting adult and a first winter along with some other species typical of the Cape of Good Hope, South Africa. All pictures taken in April 2007.

This adult bird is re-growing its outer primaries so it has an atypically blunt-winged look. Note also that the fresh feathers have much larger white tips than on the birds illustrated in Olsen and Larsson's Gulls.
The full length of the primaries of the first winter (2CY) Kelp Gull can be seen in the first shot of this below. Note the typically dull leg colour of this species, which is greenish grey in the adult.
Of course, I didn't quite manage a decent shot of this admittedly rather grotty looking gull as I was having much more fun photographing the awesome African Penguins at their Boulders Beach breeding colony.
All the birds in the area, including the Black OystercatcherCommon Fiscal Shrike or Red-winged Starling below, seemed to have had the same make-over - all monochrome with an accent colour or bit of artistic shading!

And finally, what could be more appropriate at the Cape of Good Hope?


welchs said...

How exciting about the Slaty-backed; we're only just getting used to GWG and Thayers! re Kelp/Cape in Europe have you looked at this article: A Cape Gull in Paris - A New European Bird, F. Jiguet, P. Defos Du Rau, Birding World, vol. 17, no. 2, Feb 2004, pp. 62-70. Believe the record was 1995. Norman also claimed one but I seem to recall was quickly dismissed on ID-Frontiers:

Anthony Miners said...

Super selection of images some ive never seen before.Just added to your follow list.anthonyswildlifephotos.blogspot

Morg said...

Thanks for comments Anthony - just a fantastic place to take bird photos.

Stephen - thanks for pointing that out - but glad to see that my prediction is correct!

Sorry for delay in responding, only just worked out how to adjust settings so that I could comment on my own blog!