Alan Dalton post's birding diaries and original artwork from Sweden. Established in 2006, this now long running blog is now a complete overview of my birding experiences. As an artist I greatly enjoy sketching birds in the field and you will find a wide selection of that work here, from fieldwork to finished paintings. I am very passionate about my artwork and try to depict birds in their natural habitat, as I see them in the wild. My artwork is for sale and can be viewed at http://www.alandalton.net/
As regards to my photography, since 2008 I have used a Nikon D90 DSLR camera coupled with a Sigma 150-500mm OS lens for since March 2012 for bird photography, all previous images being digiscoped. Regarding sound recording, I have been usung a Telinga Stereo Dat Mic and parabol to record birds in the field, coupled to a Marrantz 661 digital recorder, a superb piece of kit. Interest in butterflies, dragonflies and damselflies has recently seen the accquisition of a Sigma 150mm macro lens. I hope you enjoy the blog and please feel free to leave comments or contact me at alandltn@gmail.com

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Caspian Gull Candidate; Skeppsbron; 14th September 2011

 The bird at rest on the dock, a little distant. Note the tertials are dark brown with whitish tips. An earlier view at a better angle showed the whie was confined to th tips of the feathers. Note the greater coverts, pale tipped and darker towards their inner extremeties marked with fine spots. The bill looks longish and rather parallel sided.

Afte a trip to Sandemar in the earlier part of the day I dropped by Skeppsbron for my daily check of the gulls there. After feeding the birds for a while with nothing out of the ordinary I noticed quite a few gulls on the dock which extends further out. I scoped the birds from right to left, fist year Argentatus predominated, though in all there were also 8 Baltic Gull and 3 Great Black-backed Gull, all in 1st calender plumage. Half way along the dock my scope settled on the above bird, I was immediately struck by the dark chocolate brown tertials white striking whitish tips. The greater covert's were really eye opening, no argentatus piano notching, but finely marked with spots towards their inner two thirds, their tips being pale, a stepped effect which looked good for Caspian Gull. I was still taking the birds features when a helicopter overhead put the birds up into the air and I cursed my luck..

 The bill appeared longish, the bird heavy looking and comparible in size to Herring Gulls about it, giving the impression of a male bird.

After a couple of minutes the gulls returned and I again scoped the birds. The bird was the furthest on the dock, easily picked out from the other birds, there were about 50 gulls on the dock. This time I had the bird in view for 15 minutes and I got some record shots. I switched to the zoom lens and at 45x the views were good, though not at quite such a good angle as before when the bird was in complete profile to me. Through the zoom the bird appeared to have a greyish tone to the matle and scaps with dark centres, though I struggled to see if these were fresh feathers at this range, suffice to say it was certainly less contrasting in this area than nearby Herring Gulls. The head was not strikingly whitish, though not well marked at the same time. After fiteen minutes the bird flew towards Skeppsbron and I did not see it again, hopefully it will be present tomorrow...

 The bird took off and I grabbed a few record shots. Note there is evidence of a pale inner primary window the furthest wing, the near wing being blurred in this image...






 Above, two shots of thebird in flight. Note the dark bar formed on the open wing by the greater covert's on the upperwing in the above image.




 Another earlier image of the bird on the dock...the bird looks heavy up front, the legs certainly not appearing short. Would perhaps of expected a pale head on a first year bird at this time of year...

Edit; Looked for again the next day and not seen, on the above views the id is not conclusive. There are concerns with this bird relating to its apparent bulk and structure, note the short winged appearance and general impression of Herring Gull. Also the marked head and breast/flanks are of concern. Despite strong indications of Caspian Gull in the features noted above it is impossible to exclude Herring Gull parentage in this bird should better views not be forthcoming in the future, likewise the possiblity of this bird being a large Caspian Gull...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hi Alan,
This is a very intriguing bird indeed! I have not seen any like that at Skeppsbron these days. I looked at several other pictures of Caspian gulls and some are as dark as this one. And, on your first photo, the length of the wing projection is very difficult to judge due to the angle of view (same for judging the scapulars). I also tried to find this bird the next morning but without success. This is a very interesting bird anyway! Dirk