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.

Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Request Kumlien's Gull record flight shots 2014

It's probably fair to say that separating a Kumlien's Gull from an Iceland Gull is anything but straightforward. A good deal of time has passed since last year's major influx of white-wingers, a fair proportion of which seem to have originated from North America. The numbers of Kumlien's Gulls being recorded last year seemed to be remarkable and it certainly stood out amongst previous years and this year. Not surprisingly then that this rarer race of the Iceland Gull requires good supportive evidence to be recorded as an official record, and here in Glamorgan WRP decide over which ones will make the grade. I have recently started trawling through photos that have been posted online on this blog or the Bird News Services to try and find useful record shots. The experts in this area have given a fairly simple requirement for Kumlien's Gulls to be separated from Iceland Gulls safely. This involves having a good quality shot which shows the bird in flight. In particular the flight shot should demonstrate that the outer primaries look darker than the inner primaries, and that the outer webs of the outer primaries look dark compared to the inner webs. My understanding is an Iceland Gull type that looks very dark and captured well on camera standing or sitting will not be enough to confirm it as a Kumlien's Gull. Photos showing an open wing are crucial.

No-one has sent to me any descriptions relating to Kumlien's Gulls from from 2014 so far. A few people have responded to my request for shots of flying birds. Thus far I am confident that two 2nd Cal year birds ranged widely between Blackpill, Crymlyn Burrows and Fendrod Lake. Although one of the birds seems right on the margin of being identified to race safely. Caution might prevail there. Both birds will be submitted as 2nd Cal year Kumlien's and I think I have enough photos to present a case for both.

The Burry Holms Kumlien's Gull from 2014 are very poorly represented with photos showing them in flight. Another way to write that is that no-one has provided me any flight shots of Kumlien's Gulls from Burry Holms in 2014, and sadly I never connected with one there. My request therefore is for anyone who has in their possession decent flight shots from this site please send them to me. Thank you.
Kumlien's Gull Fendrod Lake 23/3/14


Phil B said...

Mark, I was fortunate enough to see the Burry Holms bird quite well, as did many other birders gathered there for the Thayer's. In my view it was rather straightforward, if Kumlien's can ever be so, showing a wing pattern and other features that put it squarely in the Kumlien's frame. I'm sure others who saw it, including Reg Thorpe and John Martin, would agree. I suppose what I'm saying is that it would be a shame to lose this record for want of photos. I'm sure I have some notes on the bird, and recall Reg scribbling about it as he stood next to me while we watched it. Happy to oblige if photos fail to materialise, let me know.

Mark Hipkin said...

Phil, thanks for raising this point. I am uncertain whether the written notes in isolation are enough to satisfy minimum requirements for accepting a Kumlien's Gull. I can appreciate that it's perhaps unfair to expect WRP to give a definitive guidelines that broadly deal with this issue. I hope that a bird showing clear Kumlien's features that are described well in written form would be given consideration. I encourage you to submit them and send me a copy, or send direct to me and I'll forward them on, which will help me develop an understanding about what we should expect will make the grade. It seems likely that this will be dealt with on a case by case basis. Therefore at this point I encourage you and others like you to present notes as you would normally do until it becomes clear written notes are not useful in determining this race.

Barry Stewart said...

I had two sightings of what I strongly suspect were different 2cy Kum's at Burry Holms & Broughton on the 23rd Feb: The first bird is the one in the video clip posted that same day which shows it and a nominate type glaucoides on the beach together (although not very well marked the video grab clearly shows darker outer webs to the outer pp). I can upload the flight video if that will be of help? The second bird was seen a little later in Broughton Bay, which was more strongly marked, but I never managed decent pic, however, I did summise this was probably same bird that was photographed earlier by CDB, though can't see his photos online so he probably emailed me direct (I'll check).
I agree with Phil in that it would be a shame if non-photographed records of this variable taxon were to be dropped, even in cases where there reliable/multiple observers. The age of the record shot seems to be well and truely here and the age of note-taking a bygone era. I'm in no doubt this will reduce the number of ropey records, but how many good ones will also be lost in the process?