Thursday, 15 January 2015


Sindre M managed to read the ring number of the probable Glaucous x Herring Gull hybrid on 5 Jan and has received the ringing details from Moscow. The bird was ringed as a nestling Herring Gull on 22 June 2104 in Eastern Russia 1360km away. It is a shame that the ringing record does not confirm it as a hybrid but normally in these cases the ringer doesn’t know the ID of both the parents so this doesn’t have to mean it isn’t a hybrid. The ringing location is also not within the mapped breeding range of Glaucous Gull.

Today was a day it was best to be inside. Temparatures are hovering just over zero, footpaths and car parks are turning into ice rinks and from noon wet snow started falling which is forecast to turn into rain this evening. I did take a short trip down to the Opera in the morning and used 20 metres to stop the car whilst braking from only around 20km/h as there was sheet ice on the ground. As expected there were no rare or even scarce gulls to make the trip worthwhile.

Whilst working on the computer at home I regularly checked out of the window and could note a minimum of 11 Blackbirds and a Fieldfare which are now feeding without too many territorial squabbles. I had a minimum of seven males all of which I believe are aged 3cy+ with five seen together plus another bird with some white feathers on its head (leucistic) and another identified from photos. I managed to take photos of six of these birds. Five had varying amounts of black on upper mandible (but less than I believe a 2cy would show) and two without black on upper mandible including the leucistic bird. Previously I have recorded 3 non-leucistic males without black on the bill but I didn’t study them as close as I did today so will not record those as extra birds at this stage – the bird I identified from photos has a small amount of black on the bill but through the window I put it down as having none.

Four females seen today which is a doubling from my previous max of two. One was the regular bird without its tail and three were physically whole: one very red, one with yellow on bill and one with dark bill.

Obviously if all the birds were colour ringed then I would know for sure how many inidividuals are using the gardens but I reckon that if I take pictures of the bill then I could individually identify definitely the males and probably also the females.

So a minimum of eleven birds today (perhaps more as I basing this on identifiable birds plus max numbers seen together) plus I have also recorded a 2cy male previously. This minimum of twelve birds is far more than I have ever noted before but Blackbirds are generally far more noticeable this winter presumably due to it being so mild. It will be interesting to see how they react if there comes a sustained cold spell.
Male 1. Male Blackbird with no black on upper mandible
Male 2. the partially leucistic bird also with a completely orange bill. I originally thought that some snow had settled on this birds face and it took a while for me to realise that it was actually white feathers
same bird as above. Note the long white "hairs" sticking out on the nape. The white hairs that are appearing on my own head also seem to grow longer than the others and noticeably stick out. Maybe I am partially leucistic?

another shot showing the "hairs" sticking out including one over the bill

Male 3: a bird I took to be without black until I took pictures and saw it has a very small amount at the base of the upper mandible

Male 4: a bird with a lot more black on the upper mandible but this one has none along the cutting edge which the next two birds have.

Male 5: The same bird from both sides. Note the black mark along the cutting edge

Male 6: less black on the top of the bill but more on the cutting edge and also dark on the lower mandible. The bill is less orange than the other birds but I still believe this bird to be a 3cy+ rather than a bird in its 1st winter.
Female 1: without tail. Note dark bill

Femae 2: orange lower mandible is a sign of this being an older female

Female 3: dark bill

Female 4: a very distinctive bird with a red tinge on the underparts
another thrush species: Fieldfare

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