Sorry for paraphrasing Anthony McGeehan’s mum there but anyone who remembers Anthony’s excellent Birding From The Hip will recall the classic where he asked anyone taking a phone call to take down exact details of a bird… Anthony was contacted and the message read Ring Bill Gull in Bellmullet – he didn’t know a Bill Gull…
Fast forward many years and many dips in VC55, including last Friday night and word was out that the Ring-billed Gull that has been roosting at Rutland Water had been at Melton Country Park during the day over the weekend. Quite why it took the news so long to get out from an accessible place is beyond me! Maybe someone doesn’t like sharing the news?
Anyway, that aside, Rob Gill tried Melton CP today and came up trumps. I decided to take TOIL and met up with Dave Gray at my house. I’d bought a cheap loaf on my way. Today was also to be Minnie’s first twitch – well, a County tick is a good way to get over a major op.
As we arrived at Melton CP a male Bearded Tit was seen in the reedbed, he kindly informed us that the Ring-billed Gull was further round. We joined Jez Robson who was already on the bird and I was soon grilling this most sought after County tick! Ring-billed Gull! Get in!
The above photos were digiscoped and show all the key ID features of a 1st Summer bird. The primaries are retained 1W feathers whilst the tertials are a mix of juvenile and 1S. There are a number of retained juvenile coverts particularly in the median covert area. The adult grey feathering is more Herring Gull grey than the darker Common Gull. A much more angular head shape compared to the softer, rounded head of the Commons, with heavy brown spotting on the hindneck, also a chunkier pink bill with a distinct black blob at the tip. Note that at least one 1S Common has a pinkish-yellow bill.
I’m not sure whether or not Minnie appreciated the tick… she seemed more interested by the local Mallards.