Chasewater Chat - 2012









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27th January


 Three adult Caspian Gulls at Stubbers Green yesterday / today!!

Martin Garner photographed/videoed two yesterday and may have had a third bird (see his Birding Frontiers blog) and he and I were there today when we also saw two birds, one of which was different to either of yesterday’s!

Martin also saw a 1st-winter Yellow-legged Gull yesterday and we saw the subadult Iceland Gull today.

A real gull-fest, but three different Caspian Gulls over two days may be a site / county record – I’ll have the check, unless you know.

Martin and I also discussed the possibility of him leading a Gull Masterclass at Stubbers Green during late February / March, like he has in the northeast. Hopefully more on that soon!


Kevin Clements

11th January
Hiya Graham
2 Red Deer stags viewable on Cuckoo Bank side of A5190 Cannock Road at 8.20 am this morning
Also where is the Feeding Station?
Mark Sargent
Hi Mark,
The Feeding Station is now back to its original site which is marked on the site map which you can enlarge on the Home Page. There are various ways of reaching it but one way is to start at the Sailing Club and go over the board-walk between Fly Bay and Fly Pool, take the first right after about 70m and right again after about 50m, just before a gate. After about 50m you will see the Feeding Station.
Hope you find it!

9th January
Stubbers Green lunchtime, 9th January:
38 Tufted Duck
16 Pochard
12 Shoveler
1 Goosander
1 GC Grebe
70 Canada Geese
61 Lapwing
11 Moorhen
7 Common Gull
Also, another interesting adult large white-headed gull, but I did not have a camera!! Head heavily streaked, which extended onto nape, neck sides and upper breast. Mantle darker grey than Y-l Gull, but with blotchy appearance, as if made up of two slightly different tones of grey giving it an untidy an immature look. Visible primaries in closed wings black with small white mirrors. Tertials same tone of grey as upperparts, with typical white edges, but with much darker centres like grey of LB-b Gull and contrasting with rest of upperparts i.e. tricoloured tertials that also gave impression of immature bird, but it had an adult bill, which was yellow with red a spot. adult. Legs yellow, with a stronger and more orange tone than the bill. Eyes pale yellow, with possible red or orange orbital ring. A large bird, bigger than adjacent LB-b Gulls, comparable with mid-sized Herring Gulls. It did open its wings, but it was obscured by other gulls at the time, and it seemed to have a darker secondary bar, similar in colour to the tertial centres.
I was first drawn to it by the tone of grey and its yellow legs, thinking it might be an omissus Herring Gull, which I am not familiar with, but the other details did not seem to fit. Otherwise, it would have to have been a large, pale LB-b Gull, hooded Y-l Gull or a hybrid!!
I’ll have another look tomorrow and definitely take a camera!!
Kevin Clements

6th January

I have copied the Birdforum thread into the attached Word document; hopefully it and the links contained work – those of gulls photographed on the Azores certainly show a wide range of plumages!
Josh Jones and Richard Bonser suggest that it may be impossible to prove adult Azorean Gull in Britain (due to likeness of presumed Herring x Less B-b Gull hybrids), but that first/second winter birds may be possible.
As far as I know, the Oxfordshire bird was never proven to be Azorean, but had a more complete set of Azorean features than any other adult or near adult bird seen in Britain .
I agree that the hybrid option is an easy fall back position when faced with an unusual gull that does not fit our current knowledge of what is undoubtedly a very complex and closely related series of taxa. It is inevitable, therefore, that hybrids and backcrosses will resemble other taxa or perhaps are these birds at the extremes of our current knowledge of (sub) species?
Kevin Clements
Thanks so much Kevin,
It makes interesting reading and its good to see that everyone seems to be travelling up the same learning curve but I don't think we will ever get to a definite categorical position with these adult/near adult birds unless they happen to be carrying an Azorean ring. Proving birds as hybrids, or at least their exact parentage, may be equally difficult but it's fun looking and just appreciating the amazing variation that we take for granted in our own species but have been rather blind to and surprised by amongst the gulls.

5th January
Not sure if you have seen this thread on Birdforum, but general consensus amongst those that have seen Azorean Gulls in the Azores and the Oxfordshire bird is that the two adults at Chasewater and elsewhere were most likely hybrid Herring x Lesser Black-backed Gulls and that the subadult bird probably was too.
Nonetheless, an interesting experience at the time.
Kevin Clements
Hi Kevin,
I've tried to look at the Bird Forum but I've given up after it caused my computer to crash before I could even register! I can well imagine the discussion and can quite easily go along with what appears to be its outcome. Every day I see gulls that don't quite fit the bill (or some other feature) and once normal species variation has been considered it is a great relief to have the hybrid explanation to fall back on. It could even help with the current Glauland or Icecous Gull that's teasing the braincells! Perhaps Atlantis could be the result of hybridization between graellsii and michahellis anyway. Is the Oxfordshire bird regarded as a pure Atlantis and if so, why?

5th January
Hi there
I wondered if you could help. Apologies in advance for the quality of the photos (it was very windy) but wondered if you confirm if this is a Caspian Gull seen today at Stubber’s Green.
Many thanks

Hi Joel,
It certainly appears to be the large adult Caspian Gull that has been around for several weeks. I called in today as well but it was at around 11:30 and there were very few gulls around.
Thanks Graham.
I really appreciate you taking the time to reply and confirm my ID skills are ok!


Cheers Joel,
My computer's playing up at the moment and its a right job logging on to Yahoo Mail and almost impossible to download photos. However, I succeeded and managed to resize and crop your photos with only one computer crash!




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