Another German Ringed Caspian Gull – X309, Dungeness


Rich and I gave the Thames a go first thing and had pretty much Zilch so burnt rubber to Dunge and found this ringed first winter Caspian Gull.


It was ringed last June at Grabendorfer See , Germany near the Polish Border, the same day and same colony as two other Casps I have seen this winter at Thames Barrier Park.(x307) and (x090) . We were joined by Mick Southcott who confirmed it was a new bird.






The Same 2nd Winter Yellow Leg that Laurence ad I saw last Saturday was lurking about. (also pictured with the casp above)


This Adult Kittiwake also came in to check out Mick’s fish bucket.


Another Dunge and East Sussex Weekend

A weekend Trip down to see friend Laurence P began with a full day at Dungeness. Things were fairly slow to begin with but we did see the 2 Juv Iceland Gulls and a couple of first winter Caspian gulls by the patch. The tide was out and there were very few gulls by the puddles and fishing boats so we took in a/the Long eared Owl and Ring necked duck (for the 2nd or 3rd time recently) on the reserve.  This and a hearty veggie breakfast at the cafe killed some time before returning to look at the Gulls. The below 2nd winter Yellow-Legged Gull was nice, I like them this late in the season, beginning to brighten up in the bill and iris also.



I basically wasted pretty much all the bread trying to keep a group of gulls close with nothing of interest, however as the last fishing boat came in (followed by loads of gulls and thick fog!) This absolutely bonkers 1st winter Caspian flew infront of us.





Originally seen 5 days before by Paul Watts and ringed in Poland last may.

As the fog thickened this dark 1st winter Casp also flew about abit but never posed in the same fashion.





A nice adult Kittiwake flew by close in


This dark eyed ad Yellow Legged Gull was present too but flew off before any closer inspection.


The Next day was spent birding a few sites closer to Eastbourne. Prince’s park held a Black head ringed in Denmark that we’d seen there back in July whilst photographing some of the first Juv Yellow legs in the country and a NTGG 1st winter herring. Holywell held zero gulls, but this rock pipit posed with 90’s blurring Gerhard Richter painting as backdrop!


Then on to Cuckmere Haven. Which holds one or two large and often distant gull day roosts, great scope views and a nice way to see many birds from one spot, we had 4 Med gulls of all all 3 ages, 5 First winter and a one third winter Caspian gulls.  Photos were pretty shocking from this distance here’s 4 of the 6. The third winter was the bird of the trip for me


An O2 Casp again…

I will admit its not my favourite Casp on the Thames this winter, and at time can look like a real oddball, but it did behave brilliantly and was showing off the albatross pose, doing a great sounding long call and flying around nicely in different light so I couldn’t resist another post.











Below with a 2nd winter Yellow Legged Gull


A rock pipit! – the first I’ve seen here, would really expect to see them towards the end of the month but must have been some movement, a meadow pipit was also present down river.


I bumped into Martin Hallam who had seen another 1st winter Caspian Gull with a ring on it just before I arrived. This bird later turned up in front of Rich and Dante who were enjoying a handful of casps at Thames Barrier park more info here .

Nice to meet you Martin, see you again.

Thames Casps old and new… for me

Thames barrier park for 2 hours before Low tide and Dantes spangling 3rd Winter Casp was the first bird I put my bins on. It was Keen on the bread but not willing to get into good light I enjoyed watching it through bins as you dont see many 3rd winters.


Below, an awful flight shot but shows p4 mark and broad band on p5 well enough.


This apparent 1w Argentatus came to the bread briefly



Gull numbers were pretty low and there were just a few black heads at Lyle park. I was hoping to catch up with my beloved Lyle but sadly it was not to be. Over to the O2 and within a few mins I had a first winter Casp that i didn’t recognise. I watched it in flight mostly as when it pitched down it did so quite distantly.





It does seem to have a similar feel to the two rung birds Dante and I have seen on the thames, both rung in east Germany in mixed colonies and I wouldn’t be surprised if this bird was from a similar place, in fact it is rung but only with a metal ring which i couldn’t read. This just in! Apparently tis bird was actually seen back in December at Thames Barrier Park – funny how they come and go.




Below, good old ‘mucky’ one of the O2’s regular 1st Winter Caspian gulls was lurkin about too.


Below, both casps together.


I’d heard that Lyle had been seen at East India dock so tried my luck there but only had the weirdo Black head that we see occasionally.



And this subtle 2nd winter Herring which in flight I took to be a first winter Argie with that tail pattern, It wasn’t until it landed on the water I could see all scaps and coverts were replaced but scaps lacking many adult grey types.  I love 2nd winter herrings.


Pitsea, Beckton and Patch Glauc.

The legendary Pitsea tip was the first site of the Day and only my second visit to this Gull Mecca. I must be a bad luck charm at Pitsea as both of my trips there have been Caspless. Gull numbers are lower these days apparently as much food waste is burnt elsewhere rather than sent to landfill. There were more birds on the previous visit and Rich pulled a juv Glauc out of the bag as well as a nice northern Argie (below)



I did however get to meet ‘Big White’ a Leucisitc 4th winter Great Black Backed Gull, rung as a chick in south west Norway in 2012 and a local celeb.


Although so far I’ve missed out on good days at Pitsea, Its still a great place to look at gulls and a real privilege to get up there, so Thanks to Rich Bonser and Steve Arlow for having me along.

Next up, Beckton Sewerage works where I had come across a Siberian Chiff-chaff a couple of weeks back, the light was good and I wanted to get better photos. We located a/the bird and I was surprised at how different it looked. All the features were present but much more subtle , I put it down to the light and enjoyed good views. (through the chain link fence again!)



As we were leaving I spotted a ‘trisitis’ type chiff a way up the path from where we were photographing just before that looked more like the original bird from the other week with more obviously rusty ear coverts. admittedly it could be the same bird in different light, sibe chiffs are notorious for looking different depending on light conditions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are two individuals down there. The hunt to get better pics or put some proof into my thinking however was cut short as news came on of a Glauc on the coppermill lane Filterbeds, (Thats on my Walthamstow Patch!) Rich was up for it so we sped in that direction.

News from Lol Bodini, the finder, that the bird had flown south was disapointing but I thought checking Leyton Tip would be worth it, and it was! Rich and I were able to get into the tip which wasnt working , allowing us to get great views.



Northern Gulls – with adult GBBG and  Argentatus Herring.



Later we went to have a look at the Swallow at the copper mill lane Filters, Bizarre to see it flying around in Jan, the Black Redstart was present also.Great day, good sites and patch tick. God bless London Birding!

4 of 5 Local Caspian Gulls


I arrived at Lyle Park in the rain. Rich and Dante had already seen all four of the most regular 1st winter Caspian Gulls, one of which I missed, and recent cold weather seems to have made them more attracted to the bread and fearless in their approach coming close in and giving good views. Below is ‘Lyle’, still my favourite bird on the Thames and present most trips.




The following bird is the paler regular Casp, very beautifully marked.


Next up is a murkier bird that I originally had at the O2 in November.


We crossed the River where the above bird was waiting on the beach. A quick scan through the surrounding gulls and I had a new 1st winter Caspian in my bins.  As the tide was about to engulf the entire beach we climbed the fence to view the birds at the same level.





This regular Yellow Legged gull was bobbing about off the beach as the tide came in. Also standing with the new casp for comparison.



Dante and I stopped in on some Islington Waxwings for dessert.


Cyprus Part two… The Gulls!

Here’s the real reason for my trip.  The photo below was taken at Lady’s mile – a furiously potholed dirt track just south of Limassol with pools to the right and the sea on the left. Birds loaf around the puddles and lagoons but also come to bread on the beach. I did most of my Gulling here and also spent time at Larnaca Sewerage works and a couple of Harbours along the south coast.  I saw many birds and have included ones which are particularly nice looking or came close enough to get decent, useful photos.


Black heads were in good numbers at Lady’s Mile and scanning through them revealed a few Slender billed gulls.





The most common large gulls were Armenian.  Quite unremarkable as first years,  overall resembling a small  delicately marked Yellow-Legged Gull but sharing a few more caspian like features like overall whiter underwing more delicate and sometimes silvery replaced scaps and wing coverts.



Many were quite bleached and worn in the wing.



The bird below more Yellow-Legged appearance but was size and shape of Armenian, and note scapular pattern, this indivual would be a difficult call in the uk though…



The Second winter birds were more contrasy and, like many more easterly taxa often moult a high percentage of scapulars and wing coverts.



Adults are smart.



Yellow Legged Gulls seemed to be present on the north coast mainly during my stay. I had a few adults and first winters however Caspian Gulls were much more common, with only first winters coming to bread but many adults and a few other aged birds seen in flight around the island and distantly at the Sewerage works.






Square headed small billed bird above resembling barabensis, and darker bird below, quite unfamiliar in uk context, with same age Armenian,




Classic bird against the bright blue east med sea rather than our usual muddy waters in the SE.




This very large billed presumably male bird, below, had beautiful replaced scapulars and median covert pattern giving it a second winter appearance on the water but a closer look reveals the coverts to just be plain grey 2nd gen feathers, Ive seen this in only a few first winter birds birds before. Note first gen tail band also.




Adults were mainly fly-bys or birds present in the few areas of Military Land where photography was forbidden. The two birds below show a lack of extensive tongues on p9 and 10 could these be eastern Cachinanns? pale tongue on underside of P10 only reaching halfway down the feather. Could be wing position in these shots.



I saw 2 different Common gulls, both at Lady’s Mile. This bird, with its clean white head and underparts, dark 2nd generation, pale fringed and browner centered scapulars, long primary projection and pink base of bill suggests the Russian sub-species Heinei.


I was hoping to get some experience with Heuglins gulls. I saw some distant adults which I id’d on size and mantle tone and p10 still growing. I also saw what must have been Fuscus LBBs but again distant and no pics better than this…


Thanks to Phil Saunders (who spent a good amount of time out there studying Rollers during the summer months) for his help with sites etc.