a post mostly regarding birds

No really, a small update on patch birds.  Common Tern nesting.  However, due to the proximity of lots of hungry LBB chicks and knowing how tasty these gulls find Common Tern chicks, this breeding attempt will fail.  Starlings, post breeding murmuration in situ – 50+ birds and rising.  Goldfinches, Swifts and House Sparrows daily.  Herring Gulls breeding.  Bird X (or was it Y?) has successfully fledged young.  The other night there were four cracking full summer plumaged Meds between the piers in Yarmouth.  Nice. Ringed Plover this morning.  More nice.

The patch list has picked up a couple of ticks, but that might more accurately be a couple that should have been entered already – it’s the complacency of recording the common species situation again.  Subsequently the year list probably needs updating.



If you are not interested in the finer points of Gull identification, feel free not to read this post.  I won’t mind.  There is no hidden message in this post, no flourish at the end, not even a piss poor pun to reward your dedication at the end of all the discourse on primary feather configuration.

For those that have decided to commit, here goes – it’s like the Yarmouth Pleasure Beach in ornithological form!

The irregular reader will have been aware that a Yellow-legged Gull Larus micahellis had been found in the patch, and that its image had appeared on this here blog.  Not a quality image, but with notes taken the identification was reasonably certain.  I didn’t think that it would hang around, and there is no shortage of gulls around here to aid distraction/confusion.  Nonetheless, it is still knocking about and it is still seemingly paired up with a Herring Gull.  I don’t know who is Martha, who Arthur.  Neither bird is obviously bigger than the other.   But, because it is still around and still paired up, I wondered if the Gull with yellow legs might be a Herring Gull sub-species as this would make the pairing more likely.  Actually I didn’t really but thought that at the very least, it would be interesting to go through the process of making sure. 

I had heard tell of these beasts referred to as omissus.  So, I had a look in the big-scary-gull-book to find out the finer details of this omissus thing, and started with the index.  It isn’t there.  No really.  I read every single word in the index of that book, and omissus isn’t there.   It is on the web, this link for example, but no reference to it in the index of the Gullists bible.  I did eventually find reference to it on page 263.  Omissus is an occasionally used name for birds that populat(ed) the Baltic Sea.  But it’s not that simple.  All round the Baltic States and Southern Finland it turns out that Herring Gulls often have yellow legs, and can have orbital rings and primary tip markings that can confuse the unwary, albeit this is often going hand in hand with a paler mantle.  So rather than carry on with the possibility that I could end up sobbing in the corner with little nuances of the Kodak Grey Scale going around my head, I thought I’d attack it from the other side.  Definitive proof of ‘micahellisness’.

Ready for a picture yet?

yes, I know about the fence


To do carry out this ID quest, of course, requires better pictures.  And pictures of the open wings, nothing else will do.   No gull ID can be 100% these days without decent images of the primaries.

Check it out.

yes, the fence again. I know


So we have a picture of a darker mantled gull with yellow legs and its wings open.  What do we need to see?  It’s  all about P5, innit.  From Malling, Olsen and Larsson –  “unlike typical Herring, black markings solid on P5”  and “Shows extensive black subterminal bar on P5; if present in Herring it is narrower and mainly restricted to outer web”.  Which looks like this.

from the left...

 Also note “white mirror on p10 and small white mirror on P9” which points to western rather than eastern population origin.

So, as far as I know, by the book it is a Yellow-legged Gull, but the P5 on the link at the beginning looks much the same.  Which is stated with confidence as an omissus.  Bollocks, I’ve done what I didn’t want to do and argued myself into a self-created corner.  Based on the P5 argument, one of us has to be wrong – or am I missing something?

I’ll have to get to watch it some more, take more photos and read some more. 

Either way, as I stated previously, it might be about to breed with a Herring Gull.  You thought this post was dull.  Wait until the young start getting in reach of the camera!

a picture of a gull

In the absence of a picture of an Iceland Gull, here is a picture of one of my regular companions at luncheon.

A Med Gull on the beach

photo five – edit

Last one in this short series of dubious quality…
…and again edited to show the whole picture.  I may struggle to produce a half decent image sometimes, but even I wouldn’t present a picture of a Med with it’s bill out of shot as the finished article.
Try again…

an old friend on a familiar post


And the patch year list is now in double figures!  More details to follow folks!  Bet you can’t wait!

the lister demon

This will more than likely be the last patch related post of the year and henceforthly perhaps the last blog action of the year.  There is a reasonable chance that I will take Mrs Thing to see the Snow Buntings at Salthouse in the next week and a bit so I might feel inclined to witter on about that.  As these buntings are continually fed seeds and stuff by generous photographers it’s not exactly exclusive and I might not bother.  Writing that is, not going.

It is not uncommon for a patch-birding-blogger to go in for a bit of retrospection at this time of year and summarise at ones leisure the highs and lows of the birding year and to let the blogosphere know how shite/brilliant ones patch is with much flowery verbiage to help fill out those long winter hours.  For me, taking into account the fact that the patch has only being going  properly for little over a month, it’s winter and also the small matter of being  heavily bunged up with cold and work means that I really, really,  can’t be arsed.  So I won’t.

But I will tell you this. 

There is a small issue going on the deeper recesses of my little brain which is causing me mild consternation.  A dilemma that keeps creeping up on me.  It’s about a list.  A new list.  Another list.  I’ve found that the lister demon has been sitting on my shoulder and whispering sweet nothings into my ear about how I could start another list up.  It’s just for fun he says, nobody need know – really.  But so far I have resisted.   Just. 

I am a lister (not as you might understand the character of Lister from Vic Reeves Big Night Out).  You may well be a lister too.  Most of my lists are not necessarily very big lists but they are my lists and I like them.  Some of you might remember, or have sagely chosen to forget, that in a previous incarnation I had a loo list, which was very small but I found it very amusing.  Recently, while washing my hands in a loo that I visit regularly, I  saw a Med Gull being harried by a Herring Gull.  It was then that the list-demon dropped onto my shoulder in an imaginary puff of anti-bacterial-barrier-cleanser smelling smoke or something.  And there he struck with his superb idea of creating a loo list.   I am now trying to resist the lure and temptation of compiling another loo list, as there are plenty of lists going already.  But Med Gull?  On a loo list? says the demon – impressive isn’t it?  It’s tempting to run that list just to have that on there isn’t it, he added.   Not forgetting Lapwing.  Or Kestrel. And another 4 species of gull.  And a Pied Wagtail… 

Damn you lister demon . 

You wouldn’t let it lie…

The Lister Demon

where are they?

Although not in a position to be actively birding this weekend, my inquisitive nature still impels me to check out birdguides to see what is about.  It seems that there are hardly any birds of note in Norfolk at all (barring geese, an orange harrier and waxwings).  Which is a bit odd.  There was an alert for a Med in Yarmouth, which is about as useful as a heads up for Avocets at Havergate.  Foreigners, obviously.

Not taken in Yarmouth but taken in Norfolk.  Reasonably on topic.

med fest

This winter, if you want to see lots of Med Gulls, there is only one place to go. 

Great Yarmouth.

Way.  It came as a little bit of a surprise to me too.  But the simple fact is that the area between the two Piers is officially a hotspot for Med Gulls, and it’s not a secret either.  And by hotspot I don’t mean that there are a couple of them knocking about regularly but there are 30+ Med Gulls flying about and doing the things and occupying the space that is normally taken by Black-headed Gulls and the numbers will rise as the winter progresses.  Nice. 

They are bloody everywhere.   There are a fair few ringed ones amongst them, with many different colours which means they’ve come from all over the show (red, green and white at the last visit).  I’ve yet to go through the numbers of the ones that I recorded but if it’s the kind of thing that rocks your  boat, then this site will do it for you too. 


Now I could choose this area to be part of my imminent patch, but just to be bloody minded (and so that I don’t just follow Meds all the time) I’ve purposely drawn a line in the sand (no pun intended) someway south of this marvellous hot spot.  Having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if I’m counting them weekly.  Because I can, and because they are Med Gulls and because they are cracking.  So good that they deserve a picture.