Saturday, 2 July 2011

When all else fails...

... look at gulls. If gulls displease you at the best of times, it is probably best to look away now.

For starters, here's a load of Lesser Black-backed Gulls from Dogsthorpe Tip today - pleasant enough you may think, but what follows is very likely to make you violently sick - just a warning.

So, with all my local sites seemingly birdless, this morning suddenly seemed like the time to crack out a first trip of the summer to the Peterborough tips to see what the larids were saying. On arrival at Dogsthorpe, it was clear there was no tipping going on - by midday on a Saturday this is not unusual, but it does mean that, in midsummer, there are generally very few gulls. Sure enough, there were around 50 Leebs, a few immature Geebs and Herrings, but little else. Despite so few gulls being present, there were some pretty abhorrent individuals around. Here's some gruesome action from 'The Dog' today:

3rd-summer Herring Gull - not sure even this poor bastard's mother could love him/her; as well as a pretty gruesome plumage state (bits hanging off all over the place), this ill-looking creature also possesses a disgusting overgrown upper mandible. Don't think this one has much left in the tank...

1st-summer Lesser Black-backed Gull - although not the worst Leeb seen today, this gritty individual has some pretty heavy wear in the wing coverts with plenty of feathers reduced to quills.

After projectile vomiting over half of the flock, I decided to leave and head over to Tanholt Pits to see if anything was there, or on nearby Eye Tip. Turns out they've got a new landfill site taking shape near the pits; today there were about 300 gulls there. Eventually, after a bit of encouragement from myself, some of the flock moved from this hard-to-view area over on to the pits, although most just spiralled off towards Peterborough. Amongst the moulting mess were a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls:

5CY/4th-summer/near-adult/whatever you want to call it

2CY: this individual is quite advanced for a 1st-summer in early July, having already moulted the entirety of its scapulars to show the characterstic mid-grey upperparts of 3rd-generation and older birds. Also note the moulted tertials (though one or two have been retained). A pretty small individual with quite a 'soft' face and slender bill means this little cutie is a female.

Plenty more gull action to come in the next few weeks - you have been warned. Excuse the shit photos, most birds are generally quite distant and severely heat-hazed at this time of year.

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