1cy Caspian Gull, Thames barrier park

 

 

A new spot along the river for me and good first visit. This German ringed 1cy Caspian Gull was hiding behind a cormorant for the first 20 mins after my arrival. Light conditions were very changeable and poor for photography at the best of times. I’ve not seen this age in September before so the developing scapular pattern is fairly unfamiliar to me, but through bins the bird had the 4 couloured appearance of; white head and underparts, grey tones appearing in the mantle, brown coverts and tertials and black primaries and bill. This stands out more in birds post October.

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The last two shots showing the pale underwing, broad un-tapering tail band and almost un-marked upper tail. Diffuse Wing bars made by the pale tips to greater and outer median coverts Also broader more patterned window than i’d expect on a Yellow Legged gull, of which there were a few individuals.

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2cy YLG

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Adult YLG

I have contacted the Ringing project leader and will post the birds ‘story’ when i receive it.

2cy Gull, Thames o2 Greenwich

 

I originally had this bird down as a Caspian gull, this ID seemed the best fit on account of its very white underwing, the solid greater covert pattern and the ‘soft focus’ appearance of the replaced wing coverts and scapulars as opposed to the heavier marked and more contrasty remaining coverts of 2cy Yellow Legged Gulls at this time of year. It obviously also shows the features that are shared by both Yellow Leg and Caspian gulls of this age.

I’ve seen it since a couple of times and have had doubts as to whether it might just be a clean looking Yellow Legged Gull with a plain white axiliaries and white underwing.

The views I had originally were mostly from a position situated below the bird, fairly brief and in dying light.  Here are the problems ; The overall Jizz (the main thing thats bugging me), The iris is paling (which you can just see in a couple of the photos below and the last time I saw it the iris was even paler, almost bright.) Also no mirror on p10 (growing), not all Caspian Gulls at this age show it but it is apparently very rare in Yellow Leg, the bill is probably within range of Cachinanns but more suited to Michaellis. All this means its going down as a Yellow Leg, possibly with Cachi influence. Comments welcome

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Thames Juvenile Yellow-Legged Gull, ringing recovery HD232

 

 

I came across this small mucky looking Yellow-Legged Gull the other day on the Thames foreshore at North Greenwich. The ring itself being yellow made me think of recent photos of rung Caspian Gulls and how this bird may have come from that part of the world rather than other young YLG ring recoveries I’ve heard of being from southern France along the Mediterranean .

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It was rung as an unfledged Pullis at Neuenburger See in Switzerland on the 11th of May.  Its so interesting to get these further afield recoveries, especially so close in date and far in distance.  Its quite an atypical looking, Small bird,resembling Lesser black backed in a few features but looking nice having moulted 85% of it scapulars and window in inner primaries etc.

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Numbers of Yellow Legs seem to have dropped a little at Greenwich in the last two visits, and I’m still to see a Caspian gull this season. The remaining birds however are looking beautiful as they approach first winter plumage.

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The below bird was only seen in flight, taken at first for a juvenile YLG, closer inspection of the image showed it to be a 2CY bird.  The iris is starting to become pale, P9 and P10 are growing, all wing coverts and tertials replaced as well as tail and adult grey feathers coming through in a few scaps.

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Below is a Juvenile YLG in a similar flight position for comparison, taken in Marseille in Early August.

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Spotted Flycatchers, Walthamstow

 

 

 

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We struggle for good autumn migrants on the patch. Wanstead seems to pull in all the Redstarts and Pied Flys.  So when David, Paul and Lol found a Spotted Flycatcher in the sheltered area along the central path, I made sure I paid it a visit the following day. Surprisingly it was still there and joined by two others. Rarely sitting out in the open the birds stayed within cover for most of the time I watched them.

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David had seen a Wheatear on the Lockwood and a few common warblers, as well as five or so Swift feeding over Banbury.  A group of mostly juvenile Gulls on the causeway between number four and five reservoirs held a nice Yellow-Legged and Great Black-backed, both juveniles. The Yellow Leg stayed out of camera range and is the third juvenile I’ve seen this year.

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Juvenile Great-Black back

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Goldcrests seem to have bred on in or near the pub carpark this bird and several juveniles were in a tit flock nearby the other day.

Falsterbo, Sweden

I returned on Monday evening from four nights at Falsterbo Bird Observatory, southern Sweden.  Known to many as a unique destination for raptor migration with hundreds sometimes thousands of raptors moving through each day around this time of year.

 

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Honey Buzzard

Early mornings were soundtracked by constant Tree Pipits and Thunbergi Yellow Wagtails wth high flying flocks of Common Crossbills and occasional Tree Sparrows too.  Sparrow Hawks were all over the place during the hours of daylight.

The day before we arrived was the first ‘Big Day’ of the season, many birds would have crossed the sea already and things were fairly quiet during our stay, however almost day long sky watching sessions were the most rewarding I’ve ever had, with hundreds of Common and Honey Buzzards, many Red kite, Ospreys, Marsh Harriers and the Local White Tailed Eagles putting in a handful of appearances over the peninsular. A Flock of 32 White Storks were also a perk, White Stork is a relatively good bird for Falsterbo.

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Common Buzzard

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Juvenile Honey Buzzards (above), pose occasional ID problems, resembling Common Buzzard  from a distance. But Jizz and here the three barred tail pattern, the lack of a pale breast band few other measurements rule out Common.

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We were fairly unlucky with the weather and lack of big numbers. However a Juvenile Pallid Harrier, picked up at Hunting height on the Heath was ample reward for the few periods of empty sky.

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These birds are coming through the peninsular almost everyday in late August and early September. This individual was mobbed by a Hobby and gained height rapidly allowing these distant record shots.

Passerines were never thick on the ground. A couple of Pied Flys, few Redstarts, many Spotted Flycatchers (or Grå Flugsnappare in Swedish, a bird that many houses have historically incorporated nesting opportunities within the architecture, as they eat Mosquitoes, Love that) Willows and a Wood Warbler,  and this first year Red-Backed Shrike.

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Nutcrackers put in a few appearances , with three birds first seen from the mound. The same, possibly, three were seen again over the heath and then another two so possibly five birds were around in total.

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Other highlights were a couple of Juvenile Caspian Gulls amongst the few Argentatus Herrings on the point, two Caspian Terns low and calling aswell as wood and Curlew Sandpipers, summer plumaged Grey Plover, Spotted Redshaks…etc.  Basically great views of great birds, a general good vibe, great people and I will certainly return.

Thanks To Laurence P and Paul C for good birding and great company

Youth and Movement

 

With it being the middle of August, I have started walking around the Lockwood before work. So far the only notable migrants being many Willow , and a couple of  Garden Warblers, a few Yellow Wags this morning and a trickle of Swifts.  Although AW had a Spotted Flycatcher in the Water works and Twitter tells me that PW has just found a Pied there too.

Yesterday whilst scanning the Bomb crater field for a returning Whinchat, One of three Juvenile Kestrels landed on the fence two meters in front me.

 

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After blasting it with the camera I spent five or so minutes sat down, watching it through bins. It felt good, quite a memorable bit of birding I guess.

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A deranged dog eventually flushed it.  

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Willow Warbler