Thursday, 22 July 2010


Today I was mostly watching gulls... What? In summer?? Yes, well I guess it's a sign that winter is on its way.. This afternoon I cycled to Damhussøen, a large lake on the outskirts of Copenhagen, to look for a 5th calendar year Caspian Gull (Larus Cachinnans) that has just returned for it's 5th consecutive 'winter' at this inland lake. It is a colour-ringed bird (blue ring V483), so very easy to pick out. I arrived around 1430 and found the Caspian Gull immediately in the south-west corner of the lake, taking advantage of the bread being offered by local children. It was a beast of a gull, bulky with a prominent chest, longish straight bill, a dark eye and yellowish legs. The mantle was very similar in shade to the local argentatus Herring Gulls but note the reddish orbital ring around the eye and the bill/head shape which, together with the bulky chest and 'lanky' legs, give Caspian its distinctive jizz.

When I arrived I noticed a birder taking photographs of another bird and I thought he was probably just practicing taking shots of the local swans, ducks and Herring Gulls. However, within a few minutes a couple of other birders turned up, including Jørgen Christiansen, and it soon became apparent that the Caspian Gull was not the only attraction. There was also an early juvenile Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) on site. Bonus! Unfortunately, as soon as I got on it, it flew into the middle of the lake and settled on the water. I managed a few flight shots showing the striking tail band and the wings (showing a lack of a prominent pale patch on the inner primaries cf Herring Gull) and out on the lake it stayed until I had to leave at 5pm (I had an appointment at 5.30 to have my rabies jab ahead of moving to China!).

Another colour-ringed gull, a yellow-ringed Herring Gull (C6S08), is a bird from the Finnish ringing scheme (I saw the same bird at the same place in February this year), another sign that some birds are heading for their winter quarters already.. When it's 25 degrees C and sunny, it's hard to believe...

Photos: juvenile Yellow-legged Gull and 5th calendar year Caspian Gull

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