Sunday, 6 January 2008

A flying Game of Numbers and Gulls

Birders are often obsessed with counting, and at the moment there is a large flock of finches on the fields at Bockhill. Spend just a few seconds looking at this picture and then estimate how many birds are in the frame, that shows about half of the flock. (my estimate is at the bottom of this post).
As usual most of the birds in this flock are Linnets, with a few Goldfinches and Greenfinches. Also feeding in the field were a small group of Yellowhammers, a sprinkling of Meadow Pipits and quite a few Skylarks.

The Skylarks are beginning to try out their vocal chords, well actually it's their syrinx (they don't have vocal chords).

At this time of year many of the gull family use farmland as their feeding areas, seagull has always been a bad name for most gulls as only a few species stray very far from land. One of the more frequent gulls that quarter the fields, looking for tasty morsels in the Common gull. The are smaller and darker than Herring Gulls but have similar small white "mirrors" in their wing tips.
Down here, in southern England they are not particularly common, especially in Summer when the only site where they breed is Dungeness, and then there are only a handful of pairs.

The bird above is a first winter Common Gull and at this age the wings are quite similar to a similarly aged Mediterranean Gull, but the bill colour and face pattern are different.

While it was watching the Common and Black-headed Gulls, probably taking mostly worms, I noticed and adult Mediterranean Gull with them. The all white wings, and only marginally larger size than a Black-headed Gull are distinctive. In winter they have a mainly white head, with just a dark mark around the eye, which often becomes shaped like a pair of headphones before the birds get their jet black heads in summer.

A one point a Common Gull and the Mediterranean Gull performed a duet a la strictly come dancing. The light was great today, but as you can see I managed to over-expose the white gulls against the fields, must try harder. Oh yes I made it 270.


Warren Baker said...

Excellent gull Info and photo's Tony. It all helps for when I see my first med. gull on my patch!

Birdingben said...

Ditto to Warren,Tony - thanks for the always helpful ID tips!

Adam said...

Great photos Tony.