Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Gull... Help!

Photographed an unusual gull today. It was standing right next to an adult Yellow-legged Gull (as if that isn't remarkable enough!)

First the photos:

Mantle colour was the same as the Yellow-legged Gull. But everything else was different:

Bill was notably thinner without any obvious markings (almost Mew Gull like). It was duller along the inner half.
Eye was dark!
Leg colour was definitely more yellowish than the YLGU. In fact I would say that the YLGU legs were more orange in colour.
Legs were short, couldn't see above the tarsus really.
Head streaking was slightly more dense on top of the head, but was present along the neck too. It was a smudgy streaking, not very well defined.
Body was noticeably slimmer and smaller than the YLGU and HERGs. But seemed larger than a RBGU (although none of those were around for a direct comparison).
From the in flight shots it appears that both p9 and p10 are missing/growing in - so it is well advanced in its primary molt for an adult.

First impressions were of a Mew Gull/Common Gull type bird. But mantle was too dark, bird seemed too big, and there should be markings on the bill...
Thought about California Gull, but general shape doesn't seem right... but I have almost no experience with this species.

Also quickly dismissed Kamchatka Gull, mostly on probability and the fact that it wasn't on my radar. But one person has now suggested that that's what it could be... and whoa, some online photos of Kamchatka Gull look similar in some respects.

New photo shows the general size in comparison to surrounding Herring Gulls along with a Yellow-legged Gull to the right.

What hybrids come to mind for you?

Any other thoughts?

Never a dull day!

Race kamtschatschensis breeds in eastern Siberia and, as the name indicates, Kamtschatcha. In winter it moves southwards along the coast, wintering in Japan, the Korea's and China. It is the largest race, almost as large as Herring Gull. Adult kamtschatschensis is slightly darker than canus and brachyrhynchus, but still paler than the central Russian race heinei
^from: http://gull-research.org/canus/canus5cyjan.html

Monday, 15 September 2014

Be Careful...

... birding is a highly addictive drug!

Some of my recent hits:

4th-cycle Yellow-legged Gull:

Another suspicious gull... which I think is good for YLGU, but others aren't convinced:


Yellow-throated Warbler:

juvenile Lark Sparrow:

adult Bonaparte's Gull:

juvenile Lesser and Greater Yellowlegs... a shot I've been hoping to get for over a year now:

Lots of ideas in my head for more educational blog posts, but so little time.

Sunday, 14 September 2014

Kathmandu Photo Journal

Have had some comments that people were disappointed I didn't share many photos from Nepal. It was a long time ago now (from a birders perspective :p), but I was asked to share ten photos from Kathmandu with captions for a project at school, so I decided to show them here as well!

***Click on the images to see bigger versions***

Mountains Beyond Mountains (Patan Durbar Square):
The Himalayan foothills surround Kathmandu creating a valley with a population of about 700 000. The Newari people are the indigenous people of Kathmandu valley and have an architectural style marked by brick work and wood carvings as seen from these buildings in Patan Durbar Square.

Dog on Road:
Although this dog seems to be mocking death by laying motionless in the street it is relatively safe despite the constant passing of vehicles. The locals are exceptionally aware of the constant risk of a pedestrian or animal on the road and are thus very observant and skilled at dodging obstacles.

Finding Order in Chaos:
Against what are seemingly all odds, the electrical grid manages to deliver energy to the residents in spite of what appears to a disorganized system. Or is it simply redundancy?

Holding Pearls:
The religions of Nepal are predominantly Hinduism and Buddhism. Here a buddhist monk circumambulates Swayambhunath (aka Monkey Temple) in a clockwise direction.

Road on Cliff:
The very existence of a road on such a steep cliff defies reason, not to mention the expertise with which drivers navigate such perilous and narrow roads at high speeds.

Hill Crops:
Every bit of available land is harnessed regardless of the steep inclines making manual labour strenuous. This plot of land in the outskirts of Kathmandu, however, has no crops this year because a man from Kathmandu has bought out the land with plans to build a hotel for tourists (or so I was told).

Chaotic Hospital Ward:
Within the apparent disorganization of this emergency room at Patan Academy of Health Sciences exists a reasonably efficient procedure of treating every patient. Our doctor asked us to take this photo of their emergency deparment to share with our colleagues in Canada.

Chest X-ray:
Virtually every patient that enters the emergency department receives a CXR due to the high prevalence of tuberculosis, pneumonia, and COPD [Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Dz]. This patient had extreme cardiomegaly, along with pleural effusion (as seen by the white lines along the oblique fissures) caused by congestive heart failure - another common condition in Nepal.

^^Can anyone say jargonnnnn. What the caption is trying to say is that this patient wasn't feeling so good.

Birds in the City:
A remarkable number of animals co-exist with the people of Kathmandu. Birds are no exception, and this Black Kite is one of thousands in the city that take advantage of human waste to forge an existence and play a role in the local ecosystem.

^^See what I did there! Somehow managed to include birds?!

Rooftop Panorama:
Four seasons simultaneously stretch across the Kathmandu valley from white clouds, to dark skies, followed by monsoon rains and sunshine.