From Start to Finish

Thursday, 7th February 2013

Doing the winter rounds today Jon and I just couldn't go wrong!  Starting at Portland Marina, near the Castle, we struck with a Chiffchaff 'loosely associating' with 'Meadows' and a Rock Pipit. A fellow told us he had seen a bird with two Dunnocks that had 'orange wings'... Jon cottoned on pretty quickly, but instead of realising it was a Redwing, I suspected he had seen the tail of a Black Redstart. Whatever we failed to find it.

Moving on to Ferrybridge we saw the Snow Bunting on the mound by the road, again from the car, only nipping out to show a lady who was looking for it and had walked right past. Down at the Ferrybridge pub end, by the oyster beds, we soon spotted the male Goldeneye someone had seen there a few days ago.

With nothing much to note about this good selection of birds I will swiftly move on - to the Radipole Lake car park. The Black-headeds and several Med. Gulls are now acquiring their summer hoods. Best of all though was something I have been looking for all winter... a first winter, Lesser Black-backed. Let's hope that now we are in February, more will follow soon.

Fortunately the Lbb was perched in a very similar position to where the young Yellow-legged Gull was on January 14th; so we can compare the plumages very well in the photos below:

1st winter Lesser Black-backed Gull (left) and Herring Gull (right) - Radipole Lake - February 7th 2013

1st winter Yellow-legged Gull - Radipole Lake - January 14th 2013
and really sort out the differences between these two 2nd calendar year birds.

The Yellow-legged Gull is larger, with an ostensibly white head and throat, and has a much heavier bill than the Lesser Black-backed. The mantle is paler, and the legs longer. NB if this bird were in full profile we would see that it's actually a very similar, rather elongated shape to the Lbb, except bulkier.

The Lbb shares somewhat similar, juvenile, greater covert patterning with the YL - this can be clearly seen in the top photo as a row of 'bars' with 'dots' below. The Herring Gull to the right meanwhile, has vermiculated feathers there throughout.

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