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
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

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

The search for 'heinei', an interesting 2nd winter Common Gull at Luxparken; 3rd Febuary 2016

 An interesting 2nd winter/3rd calendar year Common Gull from Luxparken today. The bill was quite heavy and long when compared to other Common Gulls in the area, many of which showed much smaller bills. This bird also appeared rather attenuated and looked long wing, remarkably so at times. What really draws the eye are the well marked trials and inner greater covert's, see next photo below..

Note here the striking dark centres to the tertials, as well as the dark centres on the inner greater covert's. Also clearly visible here are dark markings on the outer tail feathers, which were noticed when the bird began to preen.

 Again the boldly marked tertials and dark marks apparent in the outer tail. Assesing whether the uuperpart tones were a little difficult, though the bird did not appear dramatically dark to my eye, though rather at the dark end of the spectrum. 2nd cycle birds tend to be rather dark however, this is not unusual.

 A view of the right hand side of the bird, the covrts a little more shabby on this side, though the well marked tertials are apparent. on close inspection the iris was seen to be brownish, tough this was difficult to determine on a day of very poor light. The bird was picked up mid afternoon, the light was soon failing.

 With and agentatus Herring Gull of the same age. As already mentioned the bird looked sleek and long winged and constantly drew my eye. It was however a largish bird and in direct comparison to other Common Gulls it seemed a little bigger overall, as can be judged from the video. So just a large end canus Common Gull, with retained juvenile markings in the wing and tail with a heavy end bill? Is there any way to differentiate in the field?

A decent view of the bill here. Quite long and deep in comparison to most of the birds present, though certainly with what might be expected of 'canus' Common Gull. Unfortunatly i managed no flight shots, the bird remained on the water throughout and I had no bread with me, also, my DSLR was not in my camera bag and all these shots were digiscoped as a result.

A day spent birding from early morning saw me at Norra Järvafältet first thing where I picked up a nice flock of Twite and a single Dunnock. Having secured my year tick there I decided to head for Luxparken in Lilla Essingen. I recently noticed a report that suggested there might be good numbers of Common Gull at the site. A few years ago I visited the area after a hard freeze to find more than a hundred Common Gulls resting here on the ice. After a brief encounter with a very dark Common Gull at Skeppsbron a few days ago, which clearly showed a broad band on P5 before it promptly disappeared, my thoughts have been with Common Gulls wintering in the Stockholm area in the past few days...
 On arrival at the park I was heartened to find just over 40 Common Gulls present on the water at the site. Whilst this is hardly the motherload, it represented a decent sample as far as I was concerned, it was better than none and I began looking through the birds carefully. There were nine first winter birds, which all looked as expected, whilst the majority of birds were adult, with at least twenty birds in the area. I concentrated on these adults for a while without anything raising any alarm bells. They all appeared uniform above, small billed and dark eyed. The bills of the adults present were generally two toned and a well defined darker band present near the tip, through the gonydeal area. Examined in flight, those that showed the wing pattern well showed typical wing patterns for canus, with ill defined, broken subterminal markings on P5 amongst other features.
 It was only when I began to go through the remaining birds that the 2nd winter above caught my eye. I was initially drawn to the dark centred tertials and soon noted a few dark centred inner greater covert's. I cross checked to the other 2nd winter Common Gulls, which numbered at least a dozen, and could not find another bird with marked tertials. There was more, the bird was striking for other reasons, it was large and slim looking in direct comparison to other Common Gull present, with an attenuated rear end and appeared consistently long winged. The bill was certainly longer and deeper looking than most nearby Common Gull in direct comparison, though one other 2nd winter bird showed a bill of similar dimensions as well as a couple of 1st winter birds. Careful viewing of the bird preening on the water revealed there were dark markings in the outer tail, which I managed to photograph.
The bird refused to fly, I had no bread and the already poor light soon faded as late afternoon arrived. The bird posed me more questions than answers. What does 2nd calendar 'heinei' show in the field? Can they be distinguished from nominate 'canus'? Certainly, I would think they winter here at least rarely among the local Common Gulls, surely a few seek escape from freezing eastern weather to the west? Lots of questions...
I did get some decent video footage of the bird, which is perhaps better to show the birds appearance. There are several bird filmed in this clip, with some good footage of the bird in question. Remember to click on 1080 HD to get the best resolution...

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