A record breaking crowd of ten people turned up for the Draycote Water roost on 18/01 but the Kumlien’s Gull failed to show and two Ad. Mediterannean Gulls were the best we could do.  I was looking forward to a night off on Monday when John Judge called to say there was a 2nd W Glaucous Gull at Shawell so we gave the roost a go and the bird came in fairly late on.

I spent 21/01 at BMNH Tring and the results of the visit will feature in some web pages or a blog entry here eventually.  The following day I was unable to join Dan Watson in the field as I was helping Matt Willmott out with a Farmland Bird Event at Prior’s Marston.  Dan and Gus Ariss arrived at Weston Landfill around mid day and discovered the Kumlien’s Gull feeding on the tip.  The birds remained there very late in the afternoon which may explain the erratic appearance of the Kumlien’s and total non-appearance of the Juv. Glaucous Gull, which also spent a week there, in the Draycote Water roost.  I spent most of the 23/01 at Weston seeing the Kumlien’s Gull three times and the Glaucous Gull once.   I am pleased to say that the views of the bird on the ground added little more than some fine details to the descriptions already posted.  The scapulars were confirmed as being very dark and strongly patterned, the coverts strongly patterned and the tertials heavily barred.  I also got my first flight views which confirmed the presence of a pale ‘window’  in the inner primaries (some contrast having been noted on the folded left wing) and exposed a strikingly solid looking and extensive tail band.  The appearance of the plumage varied massively with the light conditions, the greatest level of contrast shown during the bright early afternoon when the sun was overhead.

KUM5

Juv. Kumlien’s Gull Weston Landfill

This photo is overexposed and taken in to the light but I have not altered it other than to crop and sharpen.  The bird is actually far darker than the photo suggests but the image does give some impression of how boldly marked the upperparts are.  For me the most striking thing about this individual is the absence of any signs of fading.  Feathers with low levels of dark pigmentation are weak and particularly subject to abrasion and most ‘white-winged’ gulls are faded to varying degrees by the time they reach the UK.   I think many birders on this side of the Atlantic are perhaps left with a rather incomplete impression of the range. Some images of dark Juv. Kumlien’s Gulls taken in late January can be found here http://birdingfrontiers.com/2014/03/05/dark-1st-cycle-kumliens-gulls/ .

This afternoon I received a text from Steve Whitehouse  letting me know the Kumlien’s Gull had turned up in Worcestershire.  Weirdly, Richard Mays, myself and John Judge found a Juv. Kumlien’s Gull in the Draycote Water roost at 15.30 on 06/02/08 which had left Throckmorton in Worcestershire early that same afternoon.