Myself, Laurence Pitcher and Phil Saunders spent the entire day looking for Caspian Gulls in three sites surrounding Beachy Head. Unbelievably we saw none. Not even a Yellow Leg. So our final destination – NewHaven Harbour, became a photo shoot for the obliging local Herring Gulls.
The first bird below is a 4/5cy Herring Gull showing a dark tertial mark. This is apparently extremely rare in European Herring Gulls. Its common Place across the Atlantic in the Smithsonianus birds but very rare in Argenteus.
(of course and unfortunatley, not a reliable feature, so no suggestion thats what it is!)
Above, the same bird from the other side, showing a fainter patch but still mirrored on the equivalent tertial.
Below an adult Argenteus Herring showing a darker iris. This was actually inconsistent and the lefthand iris was pale. Often an eye catching bird amongst the others though, almost reminiscent of a small Caspian gull.. but i’m not in the mood for the mention of hybrids…
A Dark 1cy Herring, with milky pale fringes to tertials was quite striking in the field.
I’ve recently been getting alot out of photographing 2nd and 3rd winter Herrings. Birds in these variable plumages can be really beautifully put together. I did have a few for you to look at but should try and keep Gull pictures to a minimum and this one is the best looking.
actually heres a few more…
With Low tides and daylight hours working in our favour. Myself Dante and Rich agreed to meet up and stay local. I was first on the scene at Lyle park on Saturday morning and had a new very large first winter Casp with a pale based bill on the foreshore. I think this puts the number of Casps up into the teens since sept. The very distant shots are beyond shit so staying off the blog. Later one of the guys picked up my favourite first winter ‘Lyle’ who put in an appearance (below) and came reasonably close in the fog.
The following bird is a different individual, it was seen on both days and in better light on the Sunday. Its a shorter legged, squarer headed and slightly bulkier . I’m happy its a Caspian Gull but has some slightly a-typical nuances all within variation .
The below first winter Yellow Leg is a bird I’ve not noticed here before, and caught my eye several times with its brightly contrasting replaced tertials and wing coverts.
This Familiar 1cy Caspian was lurking about from time to time putting the count up to 4 Casps seen this weekend. It behaved well for Sean Huggins and Dominic Mitchell who came along today.
These 2 first winter, apparent northern Argentatus Herrings were quite striking.
In other news, we had a Black tailed Godwit come off the mud at woolwich ferry on saturday, 2/3 Redshank and a Dunlin today at Thames barrier park, aswell as good numbers of Teal and Shelduck on the river.
Although were getting many good looking first winter Casps I am ready to see some birds of different ages and abit of tweeting about today reveals that other people arn’t seeing many elsewhere in the south east.
I began feeling a little better so spent an hour by the River. Luck would have it there was a new first winter Caspian Gull at the O2.
A slightly murky and quite small bird, although aggressive albatross posture and long call were adopted a couple of times. Plain greater coverts with the pale tips giving a strong wing bar in this individual, and a hint of one across the median coverts too. This bird is the 5th first winter I’ve seen in the area since September and contributes to 7 different individuals seen between the O2 and Thames Barrier Park this season. (Click on images to enlarge)
Delayed images from my trip to twitch the Norman’s Bay desert Wheatear. I set up with my camera near some sturdy perches and waited whilst he busily fed up and down the beach. Both Light and bird were co-operative and brilliant.
A rare occurrence on this blog – a post without mention of a gulls. Feels ok.
Again, my entire weekend revolved around the Thames tide times. The past few blog posts have featured Thames gulling in a big way and despite the onset of flu today is no exception I’m afraid. Today I met up with Rich Bonser and Dante Shepherd and shared this insanely gorgeous Caspian Gull (Same bird I’d Seen at Lyle Park 2 weekends back). It Showed brilliantly in slightly challenging light at both Lyle and later at Thames Barrier Park. Please excuse the excess of pics…actually, no remorse
The previous day was less exciting in terms of Casps, being a Saturday, numbers of Large gulls are lower due to the Tip at Rainham tempting them away. However This adult Mediterranean Gull blew my mind
Below, some intricate wing moult on one of the 1cy Yellow Legs present today.