Saturday, 29 September 2012

September gulls in Sussex

Argentatus Herring Gull- © Jake Gearty
September is the time when a lot of winter visitors might be coming back to our shores. Wigeon and Pintail are back in Sussex, and the Little Grebes that only ever spend the winter on my patch are back too. my friend (and co-incidentally this gull's photographer) has just reported the first Redwings of the autumn in Sussex. and gull-finders everywhere can rejoice, as all the gulls are coming back!

I wonder when the first white-wingers will arrive, but till then birds like this Scandinavian Herring Gull can give us something to look for. This one was photographed near Shoreham, in West Sussex. Note the diagnostic primary pattern, as well as the stocky, full-chested appearance, the heavy, glauc-like bill and the brutish facial profile. Due to under-watching in sussex this fairly regular race is still a description species, and I'd recommend any sussex gull-er who fancies an easy way to get initials in the next report to keep an eye out for one or two, in any gull flock! If enough get reported the records comittee might actually see sense and accept the regularity of this form (not that I'm complaining about having a 'rarity' be so relatively easy to find!) 

Jake G has had more luck with the gulls than me so far this year though, my own attempts involved grilling the hundred or so gulls at Cuckmere Haven today and seeing nothing out of the ordinary! One possible Argentatus, but the views in the field were poor, and the photos I managed were horribly over-exposed in the bright afternoon light. There were a few Great Black-backs (with one gorgeous first-year), and plenty of Black-headed Gulls, but surprisingly no Common or Lesser Black-back. The former should have begun arriving for the winter by now, while the latter are normally present in small numbers all through the summer. If the gulling is this dull next time, I've decided to try and examine primary moult, and see how many of the gulls have a completed moult by this time in the year.

sorry for waffling, and good gulling everyone! 

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