Wednesday, 24 January 2018

Charmouth - 24 Jan 18 - IDing Winter Gulls, Kittiwake and Common Gulls

Regular readers of this blog will know that Charmouth River is small, very small, hardly bigger than a large stream in the summer months. But after rain when the river is in spate and particularly when onshore winds break through the shingle bank at the beach allowing high tide waves to surge up towards the footbridge, the river becomes slightly bigger than normal ... becoming an ever-so-slightly larger stream! We are not talking River Exe or Axe estuary here. At the footbridge the river is no more than 20metres wide and yet in rough weather, like this morning, it does provide some shelter which is enough to provide a short respite from the full force of the gale. Also the water is brackish and gulls will drop in to wash and preen their feathers.
The wind was gusting 50mph this morning and in the heavy rain and the squally conditions I thought it might be worth having a quick shuftie. I noticed that there was only 1 other car as I pulled up in the car park which was another good sign as this meant that only a few people were braving the storm conditions. So using the car as a shelter and hide, today I got great views of the gulls.

The regular Black-headed Gulls are still in their winter plumage but 1 or 2 individuals were starting to show their darker hood patterns:

With the Black-headed Gulls were three 1st winter Common Gulls:

Another squall came through with strong winds and very heavy rain and this gorgeous Kittiwake suddenly appeared on the river, sat on the water, bathed and then flew round the picnic area before settling on the far bank with the local Black-headed Gulls. Superb to see this Adult winter plumage Kittiwake at such close quarters, down to 20 metres,  I had to check the diagnostic features as below:

Quite long winged

Dark grey upperparts shading to lighter grey

Bill yellowish

Unusual view as the bird bathes

Plain white tail, yellowish bill


Slightly larger than BHG, greyer on back, long winged

Small black triangle on wing tip, long slender wings

Small black triangle on wing tip
Shortish legs, dark in colour

Note: thanks to Steve W @axebirder for help with ID and ageing

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