A few days ago young Dante found a 2nd winter Caspian Gull at Lyle Park. The first of a bunch of new-in Casps to the area recently. Fast forward to this morning, I got to Thames barrier park first thing and as soon as the bread was out the bag a huge 2nd winter Caspian Gull flew very close to where I was throwing from. I assumed it was the same bird as it flew towards the 02. After an hour or so between there and Lyle park (and 3 first winter Casps, none new i think) we headed over the river where Dante picked it up loafing on the beach.
As the tide was coming in and the birds were very soon to go off on their own accord, we hopped the fence and viewed the bird from ground level. A nice change from the elevated view at O2. Its an enormous Bird and fairly square headed.
Below – P10 showing a faint Mirror, Not so visible in flight unfortunately.
Below – a well built 2cy Yellow Legged gull. As we left i’m pretty sure this bird flew over us. Dante also may have had the same bird earlier in the day
As the tide came in we made a move to Beckton Sewerage works. Yesterday we’d seen a first winter Caspian on one of the roofs near the plant, today however gulls were pretty thin on the ground but I picked out this Tristis Chiffchaff was amongst around 20 collybita chiffs feeding along the outflow channel. Photos were taken into the dying light and through a chain wire fence but bins dealt with that well enough to see the buff (not yellow) supercillium, rusty ear coverts, buff/white underparts, olive green and yellow tones exclusively present in the Remiges and Retrices, faint wing bar and very black legs.
I thought I heard it a few times whilst scanning the mobile group of birds but not well enough to be happy. After about 15 minutes I heard it clearly call exactly as it should. Apparently Local Paul Hawkins has seen it also so hopefully it will stick around. I was lucky enough to find a bird early spring 2016 at the waterworks that was in full song and performed nicely for most people who looked for it over a couple of weeks.
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.
Laurence P and I visited Dungeness this weekend hoping to hit it at the peak of Caspian Gull arrival… I think we slightly missed it with many birds in early November and handful reported from the fishing boats 2 weeks ago. A friend reporting none form his visit last weekend…
We did manage distant views of a first winter at the patch and a second winter on the reserve from the firth hide at dusk. The fishing boats held only this attractive 2nd winter Yellow Legged.
Above – First winter Caspian Gull flying west from the patch The rest of Dunge offered A graceful Great White Egret, close up Goosanders and the drake Ring necked Duck showed nicely in the pit towards the entrance to the reserve in the dying light of the day.
The plan for the following day was slightly less built up around gulls. A few sites around Beachy head and Eastbourne revealed a few nice birds including Dartford warbler, Slavonian Grebe and water pipit. Coupled with great scenery, good company and non stop Alan Partridge impressions made for a good weekend.