Monday, 2 June 2014

2nd June

2nd June
A quiet day, despite the easterly winds (although looking at wind charts, it seems like the easterlies have only been coming from about half way across the North Sea, whereas from Wednesday, it seems like they’ll be coming direct from the mainland of Europe, interesting…). A smart male Grey-headed Wagtail was at Easter Lother Water (then Golden Water later) was new in and other new migrants included Black Redstart, Redstart, Swift and Shelduck. Lingering birds included Kumlien’s Gull, Brambling and Lesser Redpoll and breeding bird news included an early brood of fledged Fair Isle Wrens, at Furse.
However, the big talking point of the day was a gull, first seen briefly at Midway during morning census, before disappearing for most of the day, then relocated in the same area in the evening. Basically, a large white-headed gull with mantle colour between Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls and yellow legs, it showed many of the features of Yellow-legged Gull. However, this is an incredibly rare species in Shetland (with just one record) that has never been recorded previously on Fair Isle. The last suspected record on Shetland was eventually thought to possibly be a hybrid between Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gull, so it is an identification that is potentially fraught with difficulties; please do let us know our comments, either below or by emailing .
The Yellow-legged Gull (centre), with Lesser and Great Black-backeds.
On the far left here, the Yellow-legged Gull can be compared with a Herring Gull, showing that the mantle colour lies between the two species. The size was probbaly midway between the two species, although there is a lot of individual variation.The head (and bill to an extent) appeared large, with the bird sometimes looking a bit top-heavy.
The mantle colour varied depending upon the angle, but the bird always stood out as distinctive (it's the paler mantled bird in the middle of the image here). The Kumlien's Gull was also present in the same flock.
In flight (front bird), showing the underwing.
In flight, the dark feathers in the coverts showed the bird to be a 4th-year individual. The black bar on P5 starts broad, but is much narrower on the inner web, perhaps more so that would be expected of a Yellow-legged Gull (although could the birds immaturity also effect this?).

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