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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Monday, 24 March 2014

Kumlien's Gull(s) at Fendrod Lake

23/3 Kumlien's No2 below Kumlien's No1 © M. Hipkin
Yesterday afternoon, Simon & Peter Murray found that there were 2 Kumlien's Gulls together at Fendrod Lake. There seems to be a bit of debate surrounding the origins of the paler of the 2 birds and whether primary pattern and overall lack of contrast in the wing will allows us to differentiate between Iceland and Kumlien's. In addition to the recommendations from some of our local learned friends for caution when recording race status of the first bird there are a number of Gull books and reputable Gull ID websites that state Iceland and paler Kumlien's types are inseparable, particularly at this time of year when wear and fading come into play. However, for the purpose of this post I'l be referring to the contentious bird as Kumlien's No1 or 'first bird.'
19/3 Kumlien's No1 © I. Tew

23/3 Kumlien's No2 © I.Tew
The second bird does have a pale bill. but the light does play a part in the differences shown above. In bright light the first bird's bill can look strikingly two-toned.
18/3 Kumlien's No1 © M. Hipkin

23/3 Kumlien's No2 © P. Smith
Certainly the second bird shows distinctive darker outer primaries than the first bird. However, I would say the outer primaries of the first bird are still just darker than it's inner primaries.
18/3 Kumlien's No1 © M. Hipkin

23/3 Kumlien's No2 © I. Tew

18/3 Kumlien's No1 © M. Hipkin

23/3 Kumlien's No2 © I. Tew
It's not easy to find similar shots of the birds in the same pose and light. Indeed in some photos it's difficult to tell which one is which. The second bird is a bit bulkier than the first and gives a rather white-hooded appearance in the field. This second bird looks like it must be the same bird Peter Murray found on 27th February at Blackpill, which was seen again by (DCo, BS, CDB & MHi) on the 2nd March. The first bird has been present since 17th March.
23/3 Kumlien's No2 above Kumlien's No1 © M. Hipkin
The ID of both birds may yet still call for more debate before they can be put to race with any confidence. Personally, I believe they are both OK for Kumlien's Gull, however, the features shown by the first bird can be heavily dependant on the light conditions at the time of viewing. The second bird, in my opinion, is a much safer call for Kumlien's Gull. Further comments welcome with regards to the identification of either gull.


Phil B said...

Great series of pics of two very interesting birds. Bird 2 much safer call for Kumlien's in my view. Wouldn't discount Bird 1 as Kumlien's either though in some images it is hard to rule out Iceland - as Barry said in earlier thread, it's as much a question of where do you draw the line? I've seen Iceland/Kumlien's at Point Pelee, Ontario which myself and my fellow Brits called as Iceland, but were being identified as Kumlien's by the Canadians, presumably on the basis of it being statistically the more likely of the taxons to occur there. It couldn't have been on plumage, they were dead ringers for Iceland in my crews's view. Perhaps on the this side of the pond we are guilty of the reverse judgement.

Barry Stewart said...

Can't remember which article I read it in now, but it indicated the primaries darken outwardly in Kumlien's whereas in Iceland they are either uniform or get paler outwardly. This would make both these bird Kumlien's. Clearly bird 1 is near the mid-point, but using this method it fits Kumlien's even though it's rather subtle.

Barry Stewart said...

This was the article

i.f.tew said...

Well done guys, very useful information. I'm not really a birdwatcher now but this'll sure help keep up some interest and raise the standards.

Phil B said...

Saw Bird 1 in the flesh today for about 45 mins before midday. In bright sunlight against bright sky almost impossible to safely distinguish from Iceland in my view, but when viewed against background of trees and with sun behind clouds, some characters evident that point to Kumlien's though still at best subtle.

Mike Y-P said...

Very interesting birds and Bird no1 is certainly subtly marked. I know it's not always safe judging solely on photos but recent experience here in Pembs leads me to go for two Kumlien's. The outer webs of the outer pps are enough to my mind.