Wednesday, 8 May 2013

A Day of Chicks! (8th May)

I went with my friend down to Swanpool for the afternoon and given that he is obsessed with swans I left him photographing a family of 8 Mute Swan cygnets accompanied by their parents (unfortunately we did find one dead hatchling in the nest but 8 is still a huge success!).  At least 13 Mallard ducklings were also on the lake, a good sign that spring is well underway here in the South West.  The Great Crested Grebe was still kicking about and walking the coastal footpath to Pendennis Point produced 4 Sandwich Terns, 1 Rock Pipit, and a single Kestrel and Buzzard.

8 cygnets with adult pair of Mute Swans

The point was a little more productive with 3 Whimbrel flying into the bay and a Wheatear was at the watchpoint.  2 2ndCY Mediterranean Gulls also flew west past the point (a rather unseasonal record) as did a constant flow of Gannets, some in parties of ten or more.  In fact almost all the passage involved birds heading westwards into the wind including a total of at least 47+ Manx Shearwaters, passing through in a slow trickle of mostly single figure flocks.  A few groups of Fulmar were also noted occasionally and one even ventured right over the top of the headland affording excellent views.  As always one of the bigger highlights was a stunning summer plumage Great Northern Diver lingering close offshore.  Other species of note included a regular passage of auks flying westwards and a single Guillemot resting on the sea close to the point.

view from Pendennis Point

sum. plum. Great Northern Diver off Pendennis Point

At an undisclosed woodland site in Falmouth I was interrupted by a "squawking" noise that I could not recognise.  I had little clue as to what it was so staking it out seemed the only option.  As I ventured closer I suddenly realised it was in fact a Tawny Owl chick!  This was certainly a nice surprise and I spent some time watching it call before it fell asleep.

Tawny Owl chick!

I left it in peace and headed for the docks where a large assemblage of gulls had congregated.  It seemed an unseasonal gulling session was in store.  I had only just started grilling my first gulls when I came across a rather dark backed individual.  The legs were also concerning and taking a quick glance at all the features I came to the hasty conclusion that it may be a YELLOW-LEGGED GULL!  It was at this exact moment that Dan pulled up behind me but it seemed the gull had just vanished!  Thankfully, after a short search we refound the bird and together studied it intently.  This could be a new Falmouth patch tick for the both of us!  It seemed to fit most categories well for michahellis including the obviously bright yellow legs, dark mantle and unnotched tertials but the thin bill was definitely our largest concern.  Below are a selection of some of the better photos I achieved, unfortunately no open wing shots.

[Edit] It seems all the comments I've got on Bird Forum are pro Yellow-legged!

3cy Yellow-legged Gull

compare grey shade of mantle with neighbouring GBBG and HG

unnotched tertials (with pale fringes)

Yet another brief visit to the woodland to show Dan the chick, we refound not one but 2 Tawny Owl chicks!

both of the Tawny Owl chicks


  1. Very nice find with the Possible Yellow-legged Gull. Your best bet is to put it on Birdforum you should get the right answer then. Looking forward to coming down in the half term may stop off at the pied billed grebe if its still there.

  2. Thanks Eph, I think It's been confirmed as a YLGull now on Bird Forum, a good patch bird! I think the PB Grebe was reported -ve yesterday :( maybe it's still there and just needs to be refound

  3. Lovely chick birds you found. The owls look so sweet. Gardening here today. Love mum