White-winged gulls at Ditchford: an update

It’s been a record year for Glaucous Gulls at Ditchford already and we’re only at the end of January. With the discovery there in December of a juvenile, followed by a second-winter in early January, there has been a total of five Glaucous and two Iceland Gulls at this site, all birds commuting between the gravel pits and nearby Sidegate Landfill. The records so far can be summarised as follows:

Glaucous Gull                                                                                                                     juvenile: 14th to 28th December;  second-winter (#1): 10th December to 28th January; second-winter (#2): 27th to 30th January                                                   fourth-winter: 15th and 23rd January                                                                                   adult: 7th to 27th January

Iceland Gull                                                                                                                              second-winter: 16th to 30th January                                                                                     adult: 12th to 21st January

I was lucky enough to find the fourth-winter Glaucous Gull there on 15th January and to catch up with both the second-winters but the juvenile and the adult have (so far) managed to elude me. The most recently discovered second-winter was on show yesterday, distantly in the field opposite the entrance to Sidegate Landfill (see below).

Second-winter Glaucous Gull, Sidegate Landfill, 30 January 2012 (Mike Alibone)

It’s a different individual to the original one which is still present, being ‘whiter’, i.e. less brown in the plumage, and with a different bill pattern – the pale tip being a little more prominent and the black subterminal band being a different shape.

Second-winter Glaucous Gull, Sidegate Landfill, 30 January 2012 (Mike Alibone) showing deep pink legs and short primary projection

Hopefully more white-winged gulls will appear here before the winter is out. March is a recognised passage month for Iceland Gull and there’s always the outside chance of Ring-billed Gull – long overdue at this site, which hosted the first County record of this species in March 1984.

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