A Saturday morning spent on the Cardiff Barrage and then at Cosmeston lakes proved that it isn't always 'lucky Jim'! No Slav Grebe, Black Redstart at the former, no Ferruginous Duck or Bearded Tit obliging at the latter.
So I fired off to Swansea to collect Gemma from her hotel and take her to the swim gala, the Welsh National Championships no less! Now, she had to be there early and it was at least 90 mins before the start, I reckoned a quick look at Mumbles Head was in order (only 10 mins away).
A work colleague had reported seeing Med Gulls here during the Summer, including one odd individual with no feet!!
Guess what - within minutes I was looking at that same bird? A 2nd Winter Med Gull - with no feet - what an eerie coincidence!!
A great opportunity to see and study Mediterranean Gulls at all stages of development. Love them or hate them, Gulls keep you on your toes regarding ID - you can also be expected the age them!!
1st winter birds - the original juvenile plumage is still quite obvious with fresh second generation pale grey wing coverts, mantle and scapular feathers. The most noticeable flight features are the striking blackish outer primaries, secondaries and distinct narrow tail bar.
2nd winter birds - obvious but quite variable black markings on the primaries. The bill colour now has a fleshy hue and there is now an obvious subterminal band. In flight, the otherwise pale wings have very distinct markings in the form of long black streaks on the outer primaries.
Adult birds and I only saw two are distinctly pale, the bill is now dull red with distinct subterminal band. Easily recognised in flight - ghostly, very pale unmarked wings and tail.
Of course the older you are, the tougher you are. A definite 'pecking order' where ownership of a street lamp was concerned - adults stay put but if there's a younger bird on the lamp, simply knock them off!!
Not a bad way to spend an hour eh? It's taken me ages to gather images of individuals at various stages and now here they all were at once - posing and flying past in text book fashion......