Possibly. I was driving back from a meeting in St Neots when, at about 4 pm, the phone buzzed and a tweet from Steve Fisher flashed up: Azorean type ad layby islands stanwick @bonxie #northantsbirds By good fortune I was just turning on to the A45 at Higham Ferrers …
Still under observation by Steve, accompanied by Bob Webster, the bird was on the nearest part of the island to the causeway which divides the A45 Lay-by Pit. Although largely against the light, and hampered by the blustery wind, I was able to shoot some video through my scope during the time the bird was present. At about 4.20 pm it flew off north over the willow scrub and appeared to be heading toward the main lake, where large gulls regularly gather in the late afternoon prior to roosting elsewhere. A quick walk round to the lake drew a blank. The gull was nowhere to be seen.
This is not the first adult gull showing characteristics of the altlantis race of Yellow-legged Gull. There have been two before – both at Stanwick GP. Remember the last one from September 2013? See here for a discussion on ID features of that bird and UK status and some thoughts. Today’s individual appears almost, if not completely, identical although this time we have a clear view of the legs, which are a deep, rich ochre, not bright yellow.
And there’s that broad, dark grey band on the underside of the secondaries extending on to the primaries again. Is that significant? Is it also coincidence that individuals turning up here also have that striking bill pattern of largely ‘dirty’ dull base contrasting strongly with extensive and prominent orange gonys spot, sandwiched between blackish subterminal band and yellow tip? What are these birds if they are not Azorean Gulls … ? Comments welcomed.