Wednesday, 26 September 2012

Azorean Yellow-legged Gull at Algés

Not far from the 4th winter Herring, a dark hooded gull imediatly ringed some bells for the Azorean form of  Yellow-legged Gull Larus michahellis atlantis. Inicially described by Dwight in 1922 as a new form of Lesser black-backed Gull Larus fuscus atlantis, there is still some debate regarding the split from de nominate form michahellis, although some genetic studies name "atlantis" as an older taxon than the mediterranean michahellis.

Kodac grey scale as been used extensively when describing Gull saddle shades, mostly with birds on hand, but when a good number of individuals from different species are present, the comparison is fairly safe in the field, like on the fotos below ...300mm Dslr photos
The putative "atlantis", showed on all occasions a darker shade than all Yellow -legs present, both ssp "michahellis" and ssp"lusitanius", and was paler than the "graellsii" Lesser black-backed Gulls near.

The winter hood is fairly typical for an "atlantis", restricted from the chin upwards, and hindneck almost unstreaked, "lusitanius" can have heavy winter marked heads but not from August or September, and neither such a well marked hood or restricted only to head leaving the throat, breast, necksides plain white. From the nearly 100 Yellow-legs at the place showing some moult on head and body, their newly winter plumage was distinctively different from the putative "atlantis".
P8 fully or almost fully grown, P9 halfway and P10 starting to mark or spot on the outer web of P4 is not atypical for the local "lusitanius", but present in most "atlantis" and always a good trait to look for.
In the following picture another record from last year Espinho, North of Portugal on the 1st of August, and already showing such a marked and restricted hood... for more photos and records in North Iberia take a look to António Gutierrez blog , lots of good birds there. Another good gallery with excellent photos from September at Azores.

In the past weeks a tropical system crossed the Atlantic North, bringing a good variety of wadders to Western Europe, as Spotted sandpipers, Pectoral sandpipers, Buff-breasted Sandpiper etc. would not be unusual that some "atlantis" feeding far in the sea would be caught and pushed to the West-coast of 3 Herrings reported in 2 weeks (1 at Lagoa de Albufeira, 1 at Quarteira, 1 at Algés), its atypical!!! I guess I must check again that Herring!! It could well be a smith there lurking underneath those tertials.

The first Herring of the season

My first Herring Gull of the season, was today at Algés Docapesca roosting along with a few hundreds of subad. & ad. Lesser black-backed Gulls and Yellow-legged Gulls. One nice subadult with P7 almost or fully grown, some brownish tinge on secondaries, and on the outer primary coverts.

Evaluate grey tones on photos and including in the field is not always so straitforward, on the following photos is obvious how grey tones seem to change with position, light or even camera
300mm Dslr photo.... 3 different shades of grey with 3 different species, nothing wrong so far.

Compact camera photo +  20-60x 82mm ED2 spotting scope...... now the same Yellow-legged Gull grey tone seems harder to judge from the Lesser black-backeds near.

I must say that in the field  the grey tone between the Herring and the Yellow-legs present was not always so obvious to discern, and some care must be taken even in the field, ill birds in poor condition or with weak hormones are prone to some confusion.

So many gulls and only one color ring .............!!!!!!! However  GR.AS   ringed in Belgium by Eric Stienen, is a regular LBBG at Algés area, so it was nice to see her wintering here again.

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

The first control of Mediterranean gull L. melanocephalus of this Autumn

On the 14th there were about 60 med gulls at Algés Harbour mostly 1st and 2nd winters and also a few adults. I controlled about 40 individuals for rings (the remaining were sitting in the water) and only one was ringed:
 Green   1Z4   This individual was ringed in France, on Barbâtre, Polder de Sebastopol, Vendée by team Matthieu Vaslin and Cap Ornis Baguage  in 2009.
It had been in Portugal previously in it's first winter and was controlled by Stuart Mckay.

A photo of the place

Monday, 17 September 2012

Spotted Sandpiper at Lagoa de Albufeira

On  the 15th of September another amazing bird found by J. Lima Santos  on a small mudflat at Caimão hide, Lagoa de Albufeira. The bird, 1 juv Actitis macularius was very flesh plumaged, and was feeding like crazy on flies, we assume he has just arrived from his epic journey across the North Atlantic.

Possibly much more common than it seems judging by the few accepted records in Portugal, however the problematic ID when viewing conditions are not good, is certainly one of the few reasons that might explain its "absence". 
A few hundred meters from this place the Juv. lesser Yellowlegs Tringa flavipes was still present, and feeding along with some dunlins.

Friday, 14 September 2012

A couple of records from Algés

Yesterday afternoon I went for a quick look at Algés Harbour and in about 20 LBBG and 15 YLG I found 3 colour rings.

LBBG with blue  NJA.A  ringed in Belgium (Eric Stienen) as pullus in 2010. This one was seen at the same area last winter by Rui Caratão and is now back to it's wintering quarters with a new suit. Let's see if Rui as some photos of it from last winter.

 Then I found an adult YLG with yellow  DYT  This was quite exciting because I immediately new it had to be an old bird from Berlenga Island. And in deed it was! Lurdes Morais sent me the life history details and it was ringed as pullus on the 26-07-1997, which makes it over 15 years old. Amazingly it only had 2 previous controls in its first winter at Figueira da Foz by Kess (09-10-1997) and Peter Rock (21-10-1997).
 I wonder where it has been all these years...

The third one, from Paul Veron, was very far away and the wind was blowing hard so I'm not absolutely sure about the code. I'll go for it again in the next few days.

Thursday, 13 September 2012

Short visits to the fishing harbour of Portimão

On the 8th  and the 9th I managed to do a couple of short visits to the fishing harbour.

The first one found on the 8th was  E447  , ringed as a chick by Norman Van Swelm in 2006. It was seen at the same spot in 2006 and 2007 also in late summer.

Then I found  K+H  ringed as chick in 2010 by Peter Rock in Bath, U.K. It was a good chance to look at a 3rd winter plumage. I saw this one again on the 9th.

Next, a 2nd winter from France R:H4E, ringed by Julien Gernigon.

On the 9th, two more from Guernsey: 6.U6  ringed in 2009 and seen also at the same spot last winter and  0AT8  a female ringed this year.

Finally a first year,  G.7   ringed in Holland by Roland-Jan Buijs.

And to finish a couple more from Holland: F.M ringed in 2008 (Roland-Jan Buijs) and  M.ADA  ringed in 2009 (Kees Kamphuysen). This last one winters regularly at this site.

Wednesday, 12 September 2012

First post on gulls

This is my first post in this blog. I have tons of material to publish and I will start with the most recent, regarding gulls.

I've been in Portimão from the 7th to the 9th of September 2012 and went for some rings.

On the 7th I managed to get to the Barlavento landfill for a couple of hours and controlled 4 lesser black-backed gulls and one yellow-legged gull.
Two of the LBBG were ringed at Guersey by Paul Veron:  7N4  and  6AM6 
One from Zeebrugee Belgium (IMBO):  H.VAG    I found this one exactly in the same spot on the 20-01-2012
One from Moerdijk, Holand (Roland-Jan Buijs):  G3 

The yellow-legged gull was ringed in Spain but I still don't know who ringed it  3PV 

Friday, 7 September 2012

Aquatic Warbler at Salreu

Adult Aquatic Warbler Acrocephalus paludicola in the begining of the 1st week of September at Salreu, Aveiro. In the previous day I have also seen another presumed adult, but I didnt managed to take photos.

Thanks to Júlio Neto (AWCT member) efforts on trapping and ringing this elusive species at Salreu, Portugal may now figure on Aquatic Warblers migration routes, with constant numbers being caught every year.