Tuesday, 29 October 2013

Fuzzy Fuscus - Possible Juvenile Baltic Gull?

As coincidence would have it I was picking my way through some of my accumulated images from this year the other day, deleting the dross and re-looking at the odd bird I found interesting; in some cases just trying to remember why I found them interesting. I came across a short series of images of a juvenile gull from 6th September that I found near Ashington and got quite excited about at the time.

Later an outbreak of fuscus on the Frontiers blog from Ian McKerchar 'coming out' and sharing his (very good-looking) juvenile fuscus candidate, added fuel to the fire and I resolved to get the following images onto the blog and join the fuscus-fest.

I should say from the off I knew because of the distance between me and this gull (c.150m) and the resultant image quality that I didn't have enough to really make anything of it. Watched for a few minutes before it moved over the crest of the field and lost to view.



What can be discerned from the above are some of the features that struck me in the field, structurally the most obvious feature is just how long-winged this juvenile looks with primaries extending well beyond the tail giving a very tapered look to the rear end. This was a fairly small individual as can be seen from the comparison with the Black-headed Gull just behind in the first image.
The head was obviously whiter than typical graellsii juveniles with a dark mask around and behind the eye. The upperpart feathers, mantle, scaps, coverts and tertials were all edged with cold-toned greyish white. Bill was fairly thin and weak-looking. The head shape however, as reflected in the second image can't be described as 'common gull-like'.

This individual certainly stood out as being different to other Lesser Blacked Gull juveniles I was seeing around that time. I've no experience of fuscus juveniles but it was an interesting looking bird and as is often the case time spent afterwards reading left me hopefully better prepared for the next one.

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