Sunday, 23 February 2014

Iceland/Kumlien's Gull in Bergen, Norway

On the afternoon of the 23rd February, myself and Sean Minns were back in Bergen as the north sea swell was again too large for our ship to be working. Despite the rain and wind we were eager to stretch are legs after a couple of weeks on the rough seas. There's a small gathering of gulls at the artificial lake in the town centre so we thought we'd check it out. Upon arrival, immediately in front of us was a large Iceland-type gull, the gulls here are not bothered by people and we could walk within 10 metres of it. I used the camera on my phone though my binoculars to get some surprisingly good shots.

The bird's size, dark bill and brown-centered primaries all suggested that this was probably a Kumlien's Gull, and given that one of the largest arrivals of Kumlien's Gulls that I can remember had just occured in the UK and Ireland, it was not particularly unlikely. We returned to our ship to get our cameras.

Phone-binned, Samsung galaxy S2 through Swarovski 8.5x42 ELs
Now better equipped we got some flight shots which showed the primary pattern. The weather was now atrocious so shots on deck were actually better earlier with phone!

I think the bird is probably a Kumlien's Gull (or at least on the spectrum) but I would be easily swayed.

*** The general opinion online is that this bird is probably an Iceland Gull, with some trace/features of Kumlien's but not enough to class it as a Kumlien's. The concolourous primaries (not darker outer and paler inner) seems to be a critical feature as is the pale (even though still brownish grey washed) outer webs of the primaries.

The fact is there appears to be no definitive rules for Kumlien's, so make your own mind up.


Birding Frontiers yet again proved to be a great resource.

Key Features of juvenile/ 1st winter Kumlien’s Gulls

Per Martin Garner, Birding Frontiers

  • outer primary pattern of an identifiable vagrant first-winter kumlieni is of a variable brown wash centred on the primary shaft, spreading onto both webs and extending almost to the feather tips. It is most commonly plain, not ‘mealy’ or spotted, although many show a small subapical mark.
Brown wash on both webs extending to tip with subapical mark



Other tendencies
  • an earlier moult for some mantle and upper scapular feathers (sometimes from Oct/Nov)
  • a darker bill in mid-winter,
  • a more distinct [plain] tail band
  • more contrast between the outer (darker) and inner (paler) primaries in flight on the more distinct individuals
Dark bill
Iceland (Kumlien's Gull in heavy rain.
Does this constitute a plain tail band, having problems finding  L. glaucoides glaucoides tail images for comparison

Tuesday, 4 February 2014

Bergen Birding

I'm currently working on a Marine Mammal job in the north North Sea. Because of the sea state the ship has been unable to work and we've been in and out of Bergen, Norway. Fortune has it that a Black-throated Thrush turned up in Bergen last week and today I was able to go and see it.

It was showing very well though most of the time only through a closed window. Here are a few shots I managed to get.





And here's a scandinavian Nuthatch I photographed a few days ago


Semi-notable birds seen in Bergen (from a British perspective)

Willow Tits (I've seen about 4 in the last 10 years in UK)
Lesser Redpoll (not Mealy!?)
Northern (trumpeter) Bullfinches - 8
Northern Treecreepers
(Scandinavian) Nuthatches
Bramblings (several hundred)