Saturday, December 30, 2006

Caspian Gull

Adult Caspian Gull, Milton, 30th December 2006, © Dick Newell
With its characteristic head and bill-shape, gleaming white head and bullet-hole eye, just a view of the head can be good enough to nail a Caspian Gull, but also, on the lower picture, one can see the outline of the mirror on P9 through the wholly white tip to P10.

Friday, December 29, 2006

Common Starling

Common Starling, Girton, 29th December, © Garth Peacock.

Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls?

1st winter Caspian and Yellow-legged Gulls?, Milton, 29th December 2006, © Dick Newell

I'll stick my neck out on these two, as both could be challenged. With its gleaming white head, upright stance and longish neck, the 'Caspian Gull' looks good, except that its bill is a little short, the scapulars are rather heavily marked and the legs are not pale enough. Indeed in some respects, it looks more like a Yellow-legged Gull. So either it is an oddly plumaged Caspian Gull, or it is a strangely shaped Yellow-legged Gull or it has mixed ancestry.
The Yellow-legged Gull has a good head-shape, a mask behind the eye, good greater coverts and tertials, but the wings look a little short and there is no contrast between the scapulars and the wing-coverts. So is this a good michahellis, or, is it one of those challenging mich-like argentatus? The clincher is the single new inner greater covert, which eliminates Herring Gull (RGN).

Thursday, December 28, 2006


Goldfinch, Girton, 28th December, © Garth Peacock.

Sunday, December 24, 2006

Great Spotted Woodpecker

Male Great Spotted Woodpecker, Aldreth, Dec 2006, © Simon Stirrup

Saturday, December 23, 2006

Baltic Gull?

Possible Baltic Gull, Milton, 23rd December 2006, © Dick Newell
Had a ringed Baltic Gull not turned up in Holland recently (here and here), I would have dismissed this as a possibility. Although the plumage tones are not as distinctive as the Dutch bird, this bird was small, barely larger than a Common Gull, and with enormously long wings, notably longer than the Dutch bird. As with the Dutch bird, it still has juvenile scapulars, though it appears to have moulted the inner greater coverts. Chris Gibbins suggests that the ratio of primary extension beyond the tail to the distance from the centre of the "knee" to the ground is a possible discriminant. The largest intermedius that he measured had a ratio of 1.2, but his sample was small (10 birds). This bird has a ratio of over 1.3. A further supportive feature is in the 3rd picture where it seems to have a very pale lining to the inner wing, this is a feature of some juvenile Baltic Gulls. However, the overall muddy tones perhaps do not support an identification of Baltic Gull. [It is quite possible that the Common Gull is heinii: it is dark, largish, has a small-looking bill and has a hanging wing.]

Wednesday, December 20, 2006


Moorhen, Ferry Meadows Country Park, 20th December, © Mike Weedon.

Caspian Gull

1st winter Caspian Gull, Milton, 20th December 2006, © Dick Newell
Very distincitive when they pose like this.

Common Kingfisher

Common Kingfisher, Bluebell Wood, Ferry Meadows Country Park, 20th December, © Mike Weedon. As this bird has a red base to its lower mandible it is most likely to be a female. (JL).

Monday, December 18, 2006


Drake Goldeneye, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock.


Drake Goldeneye, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock.


Female Goldeneye, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock.

Eurasian Wigeon

Drake Eurasian Wigeon, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock.


Drake Shoveler, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock.

Drake Shoveler

Eclipse Drake Shoveler, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock.


Female Shoveler, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock


Drake Gadwall, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock.


Female Gadwall, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock.

Tufted Duck

Drake Tufted Duck, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock.

Tufted Duck

Female Tufted Duck, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock.

Grey Heron

Adult Grey Heron, Paxton Pits, 18th December, © Garth Peacock.

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Whooper Swan

Whooper Swan, March Farmers, 17th December 2008, © Peter Beesley.
Both an atmospheric and an interesting action shot!

Red-necked Grebe

Adult winter Red-necked Grebe, Fen Drayton, 17th December 2006, © Dave Anderson
This bird first arrived at Fen Drayton in autumn 2005 as a juvenile and has apparently remained in the county between this site and Over Fen ever since. (JL).

Wood Pigeon

Juvenile Woodpigeon, West Town, Peterborough, 17th December, © Mike Weedon. Mike digiscoped this damp juvenile Woodpigeon as it was drying out on his neighbour's roof.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Common Pheasant

Hen Common Pheasant, Arrington, 12th December 2006, Jim Lawrence. I suspect the striking dark plumage of this hen Common Pheasant is probably the result of selective breeding by gamekeepers, rather than melanism. (JL).

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Egyptian Goose

Adult Egyptian Goose, Grafham Water, 8th December 2006, © Mark Hawkes. While Egyptian Goose is a species that is now spreading more frequently into Cambridgeshire, this bird, found at Plummer Car Park today, is still a rare visitor to Grafham. (JL).

Friday, December 08, 2006


Kestrel, Eldernell, 8th December 2006, © Peter Beesley
Kestrels are declining apparently, let's hope that it is temporary. (RGN).

Thursday, December 07, 2006

Leach's Storm-petrels

Leach's Storm-petrels, Grafham Water, 7th December, 2006, © Jim Lawrence. These two moribund Leach's Storm-petrels were found at Grafham Water this morning having been swept inland by the stormy weather conditions. They had probably been unable to feed for several days and, lacking the energy to keep flying, were taken in to care when they were tossed onto the shoreline by the wind and waves. Sadly they succumbed shortly afterwards. Another bird in an apparently slightly stronger condition was observed flying close to the north shore after these two had been picked up and hopefully survived a little longer. (JL).

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Richardson's Canada Goose

Richardson's Canada Goose ssp.hutchinsii, Ely Maltings, 6th December, © Jim Lawrence. This almost certainly escaped Richardson's Canada Goose is now keeping close association with a feral nominate Greater Canada Goose to which it might be paired. Probably the same bird was first seen in Cambs at Kingfisher's Bridge in late April 2006 (see final picture in sequence by John Oates, April 22nd, 2006). Note the diminutive size relative to the nominate Canada, the pale breast, the small bill and the steep forehead which are all typical of Richardson's Canada Goose. (JL).

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

Caspian Gull

2nd winter Caspian Gull, Milton, 5th Dec 2006, © Dick Newell
This is the third Polish-ringed Caspian Gull this month. The ring-number of this one is 6P15. This is a particularly stunning individual, probably a male. However, the bill looks slightly off and given its origin in a mixed colony, maybe it is not pure. (RGN)
Postscript: This bird was ringed in a colony of mostly argentatus Herring Gulls on the Vistula River, Wloclawek on 13th May 2005. Parentage unknown, but probably cachinnans x argentatus.

Monday, December 04, 2006

Grey Phalarope

Grey Phalarope, Ouse Washes, 4th Dec 2006, © David Hopkins
This was a good reward for Owen Marks while working on his WEBS count. (RGN).