Tuesday, 22 February 2011

Two white-wingers at Rainton Meadows DWT

Made famous by the wintering Coues' Arctic Redpolls Rainton Meadows has pulled in some excellent gulls over the years. These include: at least 2 Ring-billed Gulls, Iceland Gulls, Mediterranean Gulls, Glaucous Gulls, and 1 Caspian Gull that was on one of the islands briefly early on last year.

Today local wildlife photographer John Bridges came up trumps again and managed a Rainton Meadows "life click" and scored with both Iceland Gull and Mediterranean Gull. I managed a Med Gull myself this morning at Great Lumley, same bird as Johns? I reckon so as this bird keeps going missing and Rainton Meadows is a stones throw away.

Some images used as always by the kind permission of John Bridges. ALL IMAGES COPYRIGHT © John Bridges.

1st Winter Iceland Gull
(Note: The size of the bird compared to Herring Gulls. This bird is quite small and doesn't have that brutishness of a Glaucous)
(Note: Again the size of the bird, about the same size if not slightly smaller than Herring Gull present. Also note the primary projection (beyond the tail) it is fairly long and typical of Iceland. Also the look on the birds face is 'cute' rather than fierce and mean as would be expected from Glaucous Gull.)

(Note: bill length. Tis birds bill is fairly typical of Iceland as being fairly small and short. Again the expression on the face is more 'cute' than the brutish look of the face on Glaucous Gull. Note how the bill changes as the winter goes on, in early winter bill is largley a fairly uniform black. However as the winter goes on the base of the bill becomes pink as shown clearly on this bird. So this is a 'late' first winter.)

(Note: Translucent wings that show up well in this image. No hint of any off colour tones that you wouldn't expect to see, eliminating a leucistic Herring as John thought when he first uploaded the pictures today. Also not the nice brownish tones to the belly so overall the bird isn't as white as first impressions might seem.)

(On both the above images you can see the general shape of the bird. Note: wings look quite long. Also the belly looks a nice brown color on the underwing coverts are also have a nice brownish tinge and this shows up well here on these images.)

Ad Winter Mediterranean Gull 
(Note: Med Gulls are fairly easy to pick out in a flock of Gulls:
- Slightly larger than surrounding Black-headed Gulls
- Note the primaries on the underwing on Med Gull; pure translucent white
- Note the primaries on the underwing on the Black-headed Gulls; black and gives a dark look even at range)

(Again note how the bird looks large compared to surrounding Black-headed Gulls. Primaries on Black-headed Gulls project more beyond the tail compared to Med Gull. Note especially how uniform the Med Gull looks in the flock.)

(On above two images note how the bird looks very white with little hint of black tones anywhere on plumage.)

Both cracking birds and excellent finds for the reserve. Nice work John!

Until next time, Foghorn out!


  1. that's one very fancy-looking Ice Gull there!

  2. Nice posting Foggy. Gulls aren't my fav. but learnt a few things there.
    Oh, and yer mates images are n i c e. Does he have a blog?

  3. Thanks for comments everyone.

    Hi Johnny, no John doesn't have a blog just a website.

  4. I didn't know glaucs had a typically long primary projection !! ;)

    Nice pics tho, love them medgulls.

  5. Cheers for that Gazza, hadn't realised that typo.