Monday 1 May 2023

Mellow Yellow

It feels wrong to write about gulls on May 1st. Migrant chats and warblers, yes, fine, but gulls are for winter, right? All I can say is sorry, and there will be some mitigation later in the post. Until then, well, this morning I was very chuffed with a gull.

West Bay gulling is definitely a long game. I have checked probably thousands for little reward, but am well aware that it's only a matter of time...

In recent weeks there has been a regular small gang of loafing gulls in the field east of the station car park. They are never close, but I always check them for anything obvious, like a late-season white-winger, say. But I've seen nothing more exciting than a few Lesser Black-backed Gulls. This morning's walk took me along the coast path towards Burton Bradstock, and back across the golf course. Coming off the golf course and descending towards West Bay, I scanned the distant gull flock. I say 'flock', but there were no more than about 25 birds. No Lesser Black-backs today, but...wait a that bird a shade darker than the others, or am I imagining it? I took a quick photo from miles away and checked the image. Yep, I'm pretty sure that's a slightly darker bird. I hurried down the hill and along the road to get closer...

It's the one in the middle...

Yellow-legged Gull is not rare or exotic, but I think I have only ever seen one previously at West Bay, just over two years ago. This bird looked a very good candidate for my second. It sat down, stood up, walked around, sat down again, but I couldn't see its legs and it would not open its wings. Eventually something upset them all, and they departed. At least the camera got a good look at its legs and wings...

That subtle shade of grey. Darker than argenteus Herring Gull, but paler than any Lesser Black-backed.


The patchy grey wing feathering and blackish fleck in the tertials give away its sub-adult vintage.

Second from left. Not the yellowest legs ever, but that's okay. Lots of black on p5 and a little on p4, plus a white mirror only on p10; dark marks on the primary coverts. All good for a sub-adult Yellow-legged Gull. I'll take it.

Yellow-legged Gull is a nice addition to the Patchwork Challenge list, for sure, but not everyone's cup of tea when it comes to blog content. Thankfully the golf course had already provided a universally acknowledged beauty...

Male Yellow Wagtail in dewy grass at 07:08. In perpetual motion and really hard to photograph!

Spring Yellow Wags are an uncommon treat down here. I love their eye-popping brightness. The West Bay & Eype PWC2023 list moves on to 107 species and 131 points.

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