Monday, 23 January 2017

A (near) gull less dump

After a relatively bird free weekend (although walking in Oslo did deliver my first Teal, Goshawk and Siskin of the year – all surprisingly late additions to the year list) I decided to visit a dump on Monday. Oslo was covered in fog (which remained all day) but out in Østfold the fog had lifted and I had high hopes for good views and good photos of some white wingers and maybe a Caspo. Well the gulls had other ideas. When I arrived at 0950 there were only 30 gulls and by the time I gave up half an hour later there were only 50 gulls. Why? Well whilst I was there there was no activity on the dump and therefore no food but the gulls should surely have still been here and waiting. But maybe there is never activity on Mondays and the gulls have learnt this? Alternatively, the dump would have been closed yesterday and the gulls had maybe given up and not returned today. Given that it is closed every Sunday and I have seen many hundreds of gulls here mid-week though that seems an unlikely reason as what would cause the birds to return later in the week? Well no matter the reason, 50 gulls were unlikely to hold anything too exciting and that was the case.

There was a pale Herring Gull though which is always an interesting bird to watch. It was a fairly small bird and my initial job was to satisfy myself that it wasn’t a very rare Kumleins Iceland or Thayer’s Gull. This didn’t seem to the case unfortunately but the bird was none the less vert distinctive. There is disagreement as to what these gulls are. Are they just pale Herring Gulls or are they hybrids (not necessarily 1st generation) between Herring and Glaucous Gull. One argument against the later has been the relatively high frequency of sightings of such gulls around Oslo including birds ringed as nestlings here (no known Glaucous Gulls breeding around here). A ringed Russian bird (link and link) which looked different from the majority of the pale birds we see shows that some do come from much further north but this bird was ringed as a Herring. Interestingly (?) I have not noted a similar looking bird so far this winter. A number of these birds have been trapped and samples taken but as far as I know no conclusions have been made based on DNA.

After giving up on the dump I hoped a beautiful bird would cheer me up and went to search for the Kingfisher again. Today I located it quite quickly but it was misty here and my pictures were no better. There is uncertainty as to whether this bird is a male or female but I lean towards it being a male as the red areas of the bill are very indistinct.

Pale 1st winter Herring Gull (gråmåke). Note how the plumage tones  change greatly depending on light. In the field it looked more like the left hand pictures and was a noticeably pale bird 

if this is a hybrid with Glaucous then I would prefer to see a bi coloured bill


this Muscovy Duck was a new addition. There have been a number of reports around the place of this species recently so looks like there has been a mass break out or maybe they've been released for good behaviour

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