The probable American Herring Gull at Ditchford Gravel Pits

Yesterday, in the last hour of daylight, Martin Elliott found a promising candidate for a second-winter American Herring Gull on the Watersports Pit at Ditchford GP,  immediately west of Ditchford Lane. Fittingly, this was during one of Martin’s gull ageing and ID courses he is running throughout the winter, based out of Stanwick Lakes visitor centre a couple of miles east along the Nene Valley! 

Probable second-winter American Herring Gull, Ditchford GP, 14th December 2013 (Martin Elliott)

Probable second-winter American Herring Gull, Ditchford GP, 14th December 2013 (Martin Elliott)

The bird was present again on the Watersports Pit, where I saw it albeit briefly, at 11.45 this morning before it flew off in the direction of Viaduct Pit, immediately to the west. It’s a distinctive and interesting-looking bird. Obviously dark compared to Herring Gulls of the same age, dark lower breast/belly, noticeably dark upperparts and black primaries, blackish tail with heavily barred uppertail coverts, bi-coloured bill, small grey ‘triangle’ of feathers on mantle and strikingly dark underwing. Martin’s notes say it all in detail and I would like to thank him for sharing them here.

robable second-winter American Herring Gull, Ditchford GP, 14th December 2013, sketches by Martin Elliott

Probable second-winter American Herring Gull, Ditchford GP, 14th December 2013, sketches by Martin Elliott

Tail pattern of probable second-winter American Herring Gull, Ditchford GP, 14th December 2013, sketch by Martin Elliott

Tail pattern of probable second-winter American Herring Gull, Ditchford GP, 14th December 2013, sketch by Martin Elliott

Good quality photographs and/or video would be useful in helping to provide a fully detailed analysis and hopefully the bird will stick around long enough to allow this to be made possible.

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2 Responses to The probable American Herring Gull at Ditchford Gravel Pits

  1. Nick Parker says:

    Obviously an interesting – or should that be challenging – bird. Thanks for sharing Martin’s notes. On 24th November a juvenile Herring Gull type called into Thrapston. Very dark – almost black on the breast, and much dark above than any other juv gull on site. Unfortunately it only stayed a few minutes and was well out on the main pit (and I was then distracted with the Long-tailed Duck!), but was certainly the darkest juv Herring type gull I have ever seen.

    Nick Parker

  2. Pingback: The Week in Focus: 14th to 20th December 2013 |

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