This blog is about my birding exploits, which mainly take place in the Weymouth/Portland area, in Dorset. Will also include stuff from elsewhere, plus some other critters too. Hope you enjoy. All photographs are © Brett Spencer, unless indicated otherwise. The above image is of a Siberian Rubythroat, taken in Holland in 2016.

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Bird Forms Are Just Great, Aren't They?

Today, I found a Scandinavian Herring Gull at Radipole Lake. This is a rare bird locally these days, with maybe 1 or 2 per year. This individual immediately stood out, because it was in full juvenile plumage.

So, here's a first view. Note the juvenile plumage, but also the distinctive head shape, with the sloping forehead making the bill look really snouty.

Appear longer necked than local Herring Gulls.

Compare the head and bill profile with the Herring Gull above.

The head and bill profile looks Glaucous Gull like in my opinion.

Compared to the Herring Gulls below, note the extent and patterning of the pale marbling in the wing coverts. Also, note the structural differences, being longer in the body and heavier chested. The more elongated head also makes the eye look as though it's set further forward.

And now a couple of 1st-winter plumaged Herring Gulls below, for comparison. Scandinavian Herring Gulls moult later than our own, so it is not unusual to see them in juvenile plumage, even into January. There are still Herring Gulls locally with the odd retained juvenile rear scapulars, but the other features render them easily identifiable as normal Herring Gulls.

Locally, December and January is the peak time of occurrence for Scandinavian Herring Gulls, so, get looking at them Herring Gulls. Once you get onto one, they do have a distinctive look about them.

Last Monday, I went to see Siberian Chiffchaff that had taken up temporary residence at Portland Castle. 

A classic, in both plumage and call.

Note the faint buff wash to the throat, breast and fore flanks, lacking sulfur yellow streaking.

The Siberian Chiffchaff with a Common Chiffchaff. Note the more olive tones and yellowy undertail coverts of the Common Chiffchaff. 

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