A Sabine’s Gull was discovered at Carr Vale in Derbyshire early morning of the 13th July. It soon flew off with the local Black-headed Gulls and disappointingly, I assumed that was the end of that. Sabine’s Gull would be a new bird for my Derbyshire List. At 5pm Glyn called me to say that the bird had re-appeared and was settled at Carr Vale again. So, another chance and I made my way to Carr Vale, collecting RichardJ on the way. After heavy traffic in Derby, we arrived on site around 7pm and began to watch this rather scruffy individual. Certainly a hell of a lot different to the ones I was watching 2 weeks ago in Alaska. I never expected to see a Sabine’s Gull in July, in Derbyshire of all places and let alone a good county tick. Year list moves on to 204 – Derbyshire List 274
Sabine’s Gull – Carr Vale, Derbyshire – The seventh county record – Probably an adult (full yellow tip to the bill), maybe a sickly bird with some kind of retarded moult to the head. Look below, this is what a summer Sabine’s Gull should look like.
Ageing this gull, in my opinion, is not straight forward. The bird shows a lot of adult summer features, apart from the lack of a dark hood. The bill shows a strong yellow tip (very adult summer like) and in the field, the legs appeared blackish, rather than grey/flesh colour. The gull guides (Grant & Olsen-Larsson) explain that Sabine’s Gull is exceptional in having a complete moult in early spring and then a partial one in autumn. This is the reverse of moult seasons in other gulls. I’ve mentioned above that my first thoughts were that it could be an adult, which has had some moulting difficulties, due to the patchiness of the hood. 1st summer birds tend to show black bill, flesh/grey legs and a dark hind neck, which gives a collar effect. The breast sides can show a grey wash. I can’t see these features showing on the Derbyshire bird and in my humble opinion and having chattered with a few friends, I’m inclined to think it is more likely to be a second summer bird, rather than a 1st summer or an adult, based on so many adult summer like features.
Immature birds are more likely to be wanderers than adults at this time of year, hence it being so far off course and ending up in Derbyshire, entertaining many grateful birders. This bird also made a short appearance in Cheshire, at Sandbach Flashes on the 12th July and a brief appearance at Poolsbrook Lake, Derbyshire during the time it was missing from Carr Vale on the 13th July.
Sabine’s Gull – adult summer – June 2016 – Barrow, Alaska.