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Wed 24th March 2010

Posted on March 24, 2010 at 10:40 PM

birds : Quite a bit of activity today with a superb Firecrest flycatching from the pines at Fort Hommet first thing with two Chiffchaffs. I did my usual Wednesday lunchtime visit to L'Eree, stopping first at the Shingle Bank as a couple of Black-necked Grebes had just been seen there. I couldn't find those birds but there were 3 Slavonian Grebes bobbing around in the bay.

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Slav Grebes, L'Eree

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At this time of year Slavonian Grebes can look a bit odd as they are moulting into their breeding plumage. One of the birds looked particularly striking as it had a bright white crescent behind the ear coverts as well as yellow 'horns', rufous neck, white breast and black cheek and crown. The photo above is rather poor as they were pretty far away. Driving home from work in the rain, I noticed a small group of hirundines heading west over Cobo beach, at least one of which was a Sand Martin, my first of the year.

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Something that has sent me poring through my bird books in the last week or so is the number of Yellow-legged Gull sightings this spring - a lot more than usual - and Paul has been photographing few of them at the tip. Gull identification is so subtle and tricky it can really leave you with a headache and more confused than when you started. Whilst some of the gulls with bright orangey-yellow legs are clearly Yellow-legged Gulls (michaellis), there seems to be a selection of other birds with 'yellow' legs that are not. If you scour the gull flocks at the moment, you do come across Herring Gulls whose legs appear to be yellow - I snapped this example below at Rousse on Tuesday.

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It isn't obvious on the photo but the legs of this bird appeared more yellowish than pink in the field - or yellowish-pink I suppose. Reading the literature, it seems that it isn't that unusual for Herring Gulls to get a yellowish tone to their legs at the start of the breeding season, especially for northern birds of the race argentatus. So it is just something to keep in mond, that in spring, a yellow-legged gull isn't necessarily a Yellow-legged Gull.

  

Categories: 2010 Spring