Thursday, 10 January 2013

Horsehay - the Ring-billed Gull Hyb returns?

I'd just arrived to witness another desolate scene at Priorslee lake and hadn't even got out of the car when Kris phoned..... "Got the Ring-billed x Lesser Black back cross from last year, at Horsehay mate":-)

Despite putting some hours in to try and find it last Winter, I had no success - but would it stay now?

It took what seemed like an eternity to locate it but once found, it did look similar to images of the previous bird albeit much less streaky head. Ring-billed in general appearance  but with a mantle shade midway between Lesser Black-back and Herring..... Yellow legs too (see flight shot below)

Comparison with other large gulls. You can get a sense of size, clearly just smaller then the Lesser Black-backs and mantle shade as mentioned above.

Here's one with just a Lesser Black back

Zooming in......

The gulls were getting edgy and take off was imminent. I managed to get a single take off shot. At least the primary pattern is visible here.

What happened next?  The view went dark as a  passing dog walker caused a total eclipse of the Gull!! Before I could react and find it again, it was gone - "you nearly missed your shot then" yeah, thanks but less of the nearly :-( There one or two out of focus jobs! 

Tom Lowe put this montage together to show the differences between this latest hybrid (inset) and the Feb 2012. The bill certainly seems different - longer /slimmer with narrower band and the eye smaller/darker, much less streaking obviously.... It certainly looks to be a different Gull!

Are there more of these than previously thought?

Here's a link to the  Feb 2012 Priorslee Gull images

What a cracking find and interesting Gull.

There's gotta be a White winged Gull about soon??! Oh and thanks Kris - I really wanted to see this Gull :-)