Please note that this is my own personal blog and therefore the views and opinions expressed, although in no way intended to be controversial, are not necessarily those shared by my employers Abbotsbury Tourism Ltd. and Ilchester Estates . All photos are © Steve Groves unless otherwise credited.

Sunday, 2 March 2014

Canadian Kumlien's Clinched!

Swannery Birding Highlights Of The Week...

Monday 24th February to Sunday 2nd March 2014...  

So by way of a recap... In my initial post last Sunday I explained how on the previous Friday I had seen two Glaucous Gulls - an adult and a first year (or if you prefer - 2nd calendar year) - and uploaded a photo of each, albeit in each case rather distant and heavily cropped.

Then things developed...

On Monday Brett Spencer contacted me to say Steve Waite had drawn his attention to the photo of the immature bird as it didn't look quite right for a Glaucous. In fact they both concurred it looked like a possible Kumlien's! Now in my defence I was a little worried about the markings on its primaries and its 'Iceland Gull like' head but in the distant views I had of the bird it seemed to me to dwarf the accompanying Herring Gulls and I wrongly thought that Kumlien's were more like Iceland Gull in size so, without consulting the literature, I naively identified it as a Glaucous. Armed with the new potential id, thanks to Steve and Brett, I then (sparsely) edited my initial post.
The bird was present again briefly on Monday and Tuesday and although I couldn't positively id it as a Kumlien's it clearly wasn't a Glaucous and probably not a (gluacoides) Iceland either. Thankfully Brett took the day off work on Wednesday to try and clinch the birds id and although it didn't show at The Swannery he did eventually find it on the sea off Abbotsbury Beach and not only clinched it as a definite Kumlien's but was also able to definitively age it as a second year (3rd calendar year)!

Although I saw it well through my scope on Tuesday my photos were even worse than Friday but the whitish blob in the centre of this pic is the second year (3rd calendar year) Kumlien's Gull... honest! There are some better pics of it elsewhere at Abbotsbury and at West Bexington here... dorsetbirders

Despite keeping an eye out for the Kumlien's, I didn't see it after Tuesday even though it was in the Abbotsbury/Bexington area all week (including today). I did however manage to connect with at least two Glaucous Gulls - with at least one adult on Wednesday and a first year (2nd calendar year) on Thursday...

The first year Glaucous Gull on The Fleet on Thursday.

Staying on the gull theme several ailing adult Kittiwakes were still lingering following the recent storms...

Adult (Black-legged) Kittiwake.

Also no doubt a victim of the recent storms a Razorbill was present briefly on The Fleet in The Swannery embayment on Tuesday.

So rather an exciting week with The Swannery's second (and first live) Kumlien's Gull clinched (albeit not a full species as this taxon is either a race of Iceland Gull, or an intergrade or stable hybrid of Iceland with Thayer's Gull, depending on which theory/authority you go with!), along with a supporting cast of two plus Glaucous Gulls and a Razorbill (the latter being rarer at The Swannery than Glaucous Gull!).
There was very little else to report though with very poor numbers of wildfowl (not a single Scaup for instance - they're all on the East Fleet), with the only other entries in the notebook being the regular male Marsh Harrier and a couple of (not so regular now) Yellowhammers by adjacent Horse Pool Farm (per Steve Hales). Our regular pair of Black Swans reappeared today, however, having been absent all winter, joining the Golden Pheasant and Harris's Hawk on the week's category 'E' (escapee) list.

So looking forward to next week, it's about time I added a (gluacoides) Iceland Gull to this winter’s northern gull extravaganza and maybe some early passerine migrants too! 


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