GRC Blog

Welcome to the GRC Recorders pages. This blog provides details on all the relevant news of Glamorgan’s scarcer birds, plus all BBRC & WRP decisions that affect us locally. It will also be used to document the status and occurrence of these scarcer species and we welcome contributions from anyone with photographs, artwork or documentation of rarities past, present and future. The GRC also welcomes all seawatching news from around Glamorgan and news of passage migrants in spring & autumn, uncommon birds in our area and unusual behaviour.

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The Glamorgan Rarities Committee, in conjunction with the Glamorgan Bird Club & Gower Wildlife , have agreed to co-operate with the Welsh Ornithological Society in the sharing of bird records & photographs in the interest of keeping accurate records and to promote birdwatching in North, Mid & South Wales.

Friday, 24 January 2014

Thayer's debate

With the weather looking clear for tomorrow some might be considering going for this gull. The general excitement surrounding this bird seems to have been dampened somewhat by some suggestions that it's a hybrid with a bit of Thayer's Gull at best, and a dark Kumlien's Gull at worst. I'm surprised there hasn't been more news from this week. I was expecting there to be better shots of the gull being branded about by visiting birders who might have travelled during the week, but none appear to have been published. In fact I only know of one birder who has made the trip, and that was yesterday - reporting few gulls in the area and nothing unusual amongst them.

I took loads of photos last sunday and must have overlooked this one, but it might be one of the most useful of the lot. The photo is a little dark, but it does show a significant amount of bleaching on the tail and also the trailing edge of the flight feathers, which also show some wear.  Being completely honest I'm not nearly familiar enough with the whole Thayer's - Kumlien's complex to give a useful evaluation of this bird's true identity. I'm glad that this responsibility will lie with the experts.

However we're are all entitled to our opinions and during these times of uncertainty one tends to look for glimmers of hope! I was impressed by RBA's encouragement to look at photos of Thayer's Gulls from California, where Kumlien's should be found only rarely. My hope now comes from a blog called Globalgull! It illustrates a juv Thayer's Gull in flight in California Dec 2011, which looks to me to be a carbon copy, with a bit of bleach and rough times added, of the Burry Holms bird. If the bird on Globalgull is pure then I suggest the credentials of the Burry Holms bird should be treated very seriously.

Ultimately, until a decision is reached by the powers that be we will have to make our own minds up about what this bird is, and give respect to those that have already decided. From a personal point of view it has been very entertaining birding these last few weeks; keeping company with some really experienced 'gullers' has been really enjoyable and informative. And that for me is what it's all about.

If you're going tomorrow - Good Luck!

A link to globalgull is HERE


Dave A said...

Thanks Mark for an interesting post and an excellent photo. Clearly this bird is not a nailed on classic Thayer's. However, I struggle to see the dark Kumlien's suggestion for a few reasons, including just how relatively dark it is, how dark and largely plain centred the tertials are, the dark secondary bar and that classic slopey, big eyed Thayer's head profile. The two key questions are: 1) can a Thayer's be this pale? (answer: yes, just check the web) and 2) what do birds in the Thayer's/Kumlien's integrade zone look like? (answer: I don't know). Clearly much still to find out!

Barry Stewart said...

The plumage of the Gower bird matches pretty much feather for feather, including the pale-tipped tail and bright scaps the bird(s) shown in photos 11 and 15 of the Laurusology blog I agree the bird does not fit any of the dark Kumlien’s I've seen on line or in lit. and whilst it does not fit the classic Thayer’s pattern, it does match birds within range. Whilst the Gower bird matches Thayer's better than anything else, there may be too little known about specific and hybrid variation for the record to gain acceptance; that will be the committee's decision. I'm just pleased the bird stuck around to give folks the chance to see this great bird and that images were grabbed to provide a complete record of the bird.