The weather has been a lot colder over the last couple of nights reaching between -3 and -6 last night. The lakes were almost completely frozen this morning giving the growing attendance at The Farm a good opportunity to sift through the 10K+ gulls that are visiting daily. There is still hope that the juvenile and adult Iceland Gulls will be found having been seen at the Walton roost.
The lakes are covered in a blanket of gulls even before the sun rises which limits the possibility of waterfowl remaining on the lakes when the first observers arrive at stupid o clock. The winter residents seek cover along the edges of the reed beds and between islands.
The freeze provides a good opportunity to look at rings on some of the gulls and the collator of this information Frank Prater wasted no time in compiling a list. He recorded thirty rings by the end of the session including a 1st winter Caspian Gull which was ringed in Poland.
I do not consider myself an expert on gulls but Beddington Farm is littered with gulls at this time of year presenting a good opportunity to improve your knowledge on this very tricky and challenging subject. It helps to discuss the features of some of the odd looking gulls we get on site. Pete Alfrey was also on hand to assist with this process.
The first gull of interest to the group was a gull that had a Polish ring and this bird showed the standard characteristics of a 1st winter Caspian Gull.
This gull shows the four colours of a 1st winter bird. Firstly a long dark bill with white small head dark beady eye with a brownish shawl around the neck.
The mantle and scapulars are grey leading into brownish mottling through the coverts with dark tertials with a white outer edge to the tips. This is more visible through P9 and 10 of the primary feathers.
The legs are long and light pink giving the bird a ski slope back.
Another gull of interest was a Herring Gull that showed colour rings on both legs.
We also had an exotic flypast early morning which mysteriously appeared late morning in the scrub on the sand martin bank behind us.The bird was freed from the scrub but I am not sure how long it will last especially with the Peregrines patrolling the site!
We are still not sure now it managed to get there undetected! or did it walk through the scrub!
An interesting morning which ended with a fly over Red Kite! Incidently no white wingers were found!