Crayford Glaucous plus a handful o’ Casps

Dante and I had 2 hours looking at Crayford this afternoon. We’ve recently been doing the sites on foot, rotating around the 3/4 places to stand and check through the loafing or feeding birds between Viridor, Serco, Jolly farmers and the roofs in between and I feel were getting more covered.  5 Caspain gulls and a juv Glaucous Gull were recorded amoung a huge amount of (very mobile) gulls .


The Glauc, that dante picked up on the Serco roof was really the highlight and was seen in flight a few times but i never really got close.  At Viridor, there was many times more the usual amount of ‘stuff’ on the ‘piles’ and the Gulls were going mad for it. We had three 1st winter Caspians feeding on it all, one of which (not photographed here) I had the week previous but these two below are new birds it seems.



Above and below birds are different individuals, 2 pics of each. They’re both great looking birds in my opinion.



Below is 3rd winter ringed Casp ‘G0UT’ again, who featured in last weeks Caspfest. 


The following pic shows its developing primary pattern despite the shitty photo, it looks great with those nice long grey tongues for a bird this age.


Finally, Polish Ringed regular P895, I’m pretty sure I picked up this bird once or twice in flight during the session and haven’t added to the total incase I’m right


I think Crayford will continue to turn up decent birds from now till april so expect a weekly set of these kind of photos like it or not!


Crayford Caspian Gulls

Dante and I spent 4 hours at Crayford today. There were more birds than I’ve ever seen at the site and a pretty solid/conservative count of 12 Caspian Gulls was recorded between us. Most of course were 1cy birds. (Each of the following photographs depict a different birds unless stated.)





This nice pale, delicately plumaged bird even did a long call and ‘albatross’ (below)…





Dante picked out this adult in flight. A small, presumably female bird. (above and below)


Barry Wright and Andrew Lawson turned up and we had a few more 1st Winters





The above bird is P:895, a Polish ringed 1cy thats seen regularly at the site. We also had this fella below, ‘G0UT’ –  a thames ringed and regular Caspian in the area, seen every so often between London, the Netherlands and even Poland last summer.


A handful of yellow legged gulls (below), an adult Med and a leucistic Herring were also recorded.


We saw several birds in flight but of course its harder to tell if these were new birds to the count or already counted birds moving about. A really enjoyable day!



Dungeness 29/12/18

Probably my last trip to Dunge this year and albeit brief it was a decent one. My initial plan was to get out onto Lade sands at low tide and try and get some gulls together. However to my dismay there were only a handful of ‘large’ and everything else was chasing a fishing boat around a few hundred yards out to sea.


I pulled up on the road near the fishing boats and after throwing out a loaf or two I had about 50 large gulls around me including this 1cy Caspian Gull.



Its really a nice bird to my eyes. The deep tail band with all that barring along with the long bill and large size…nice.



Whilst this bird was on the beach next to me I could see another 1cy following the back of the fishing boat, unfortunately this bird wasn’t seen again however I picked up a large barrell chested adult/4cy Casp flying my way. Alas i didn’t get the shots I wanted but these show all the stuff well enough I guess. 



I thought perhaps the black spot neat the alula, black in the bill and amount in the primaries might be an indicator of it being younger than adult plumage but could be wrong. Nice grey tongue on p10 below.



Miami December 2018

Another Work trip, this time 10 days in Miami Florida, staying right on Miami Beach itself. Allowing myself to fully submerge into things that have fascinated me about America all my life. Despite obvious things to be critical of, its an amazing place and I cant believe I don’t go more often.


We arrived late afternoon and my first sightings of Magnificent Frigatebirds, and Brown pelicans were from the airport taxi as we crossed Biscayne Bay.


Turkey Vultures were all over the place as we approached the hotel and I immediately got onto the beach with a loaf of Hovis (smuggled from home in my suitcase) and began lobbing it for the mass of Laughing Gulls. A completely new bird for me and the first winters were incredibly elegant, think i’ve found a new favourite small gull.






Adults were equally as lovely and defiantly the most common larid along the shores and waterways. Next up were the RingBilled Gulls, I’ve only seen adults and 2nd winter birds in the UK and Ireland and always wondered what i’d make of a first winter in the flesh. Heres a few shots showing the variability, none of them struck me as particularly similar to common gulls of the same age.








Adult Ringbilleds always dominated the bread feeding flocks on the beaches. In term of Large Gulls I saw one adult and one 1cy American Herring Gull, all others were Graellsii Lesser Black Backs. I was surprised to see these every day, perhaps 10-20 birds throughout the trip of all ages. Most birds were mid wing moult, this of course if different to our Graellsii birds at home currently, Id be interested to know if this is a post migration wintering grounds moult rather than a delayed moult due to northerly breeding grounds, which seem to be Greenland from what I can tell.


Fly by Ospreys were an every day occurrence and were seen all over the city including fishing a small pond on a golf course and sitting on the putting green!



Another feature of the urban coastline were the Royal terns. This large flock were congregated on a quieter beach in Key Biscayne but smaller flocks and many flyby birds were present on south beach its self. incredible expression when you get up close.



It took one or two mornings to figure out where the best place to look for Warblers was, these are the birds I was most excited about seeing and of which 15 species were recorded.



I had seen Palm, Parula and Cape may Warblers around the city and had about 2 hours of light before work every morning during which I eventually found a spot in a small green space with a mix of trees to look at Warblers.  The tree below and surrounding area was where i saw most. All except Yellow Rumped, and Northern Waterthrush were ticks and totally thrilling to see.


Parulas below…




Prairie Warblers below…



Black and White Warblers below…



Below, Cape May Warblers…



Pine Warbler


Black throated Blue Warblers



1st yr fem American Redstart…


next, a real highlight – Yellow-Throated Warbler…


Elsewhere around the city and over the bridges into Bill Baggs national park in Key Biscayne Dense mangroves and sub tropical woodland held pockets of warblers and other passerines, there were more of the same but I added a few more species of Warbler to the list. 


Common Yellowthroats were vocal but shy except this individual…


as were Orange Crowned, with mostly glimpses of grey headed birds.


I also had Magnolia warbler, YellowRumped Wabler, Northern waterthrush and Ovenbird but these were un photographed

I was hoping to see Summer Tanager during the trip and when a Tanager sized silhouette moved in the canopy at my ‘pre work’ patch I focused in with baited breath and was shocked to see a familiar bird in front of me, Western Tanager!, a species I’d seen in Colorado 5 years before, I was sure this wasn’t supposed to be on the radar in the south east and was right, there are only one or two wintering records in Florida per year and it has a less than 1% frequency rating on ebird for the area, so pretty scarce I guess.


Other Passerines were things like Common and BoatTailed Grackles, Northern Mocking birds, Gray Catbird and Loggerhead Shrike and seen everyday. I saw A single Western Kingbird and one or two Greatcrested Flycatchers, Belted Kingfishers, Northern Flickers and Yellow Bellied Sapsuckers were a daily occurrence and I saw a few Eastern Pheobes which I particularly liked. Mourning doves were spread around the city and Common ground doves were common out in Key Biscayne.







Blueheaded and White-Eyed Vireos.



I had a whole day and a morning off during the trip and both were spent out in Key Biscayne where I saw a lot of the previous species of warbler as well as some Wading birds. Pretty much all of the waders on the trip were very approachable and I spent a good amount of time lying down waiting for them to get close.  Sanderling were everywhere and joined in a few spots by Semi Palmated, Black Bellied and Piping Plovers



ShortBilled Dowitchers, Least and Spotted Sandpipers and a single Kildeer






This habitat was of course also good for Herons and Egrets, with Flocks of American White Ibis, many Cattle the occasional Great, Reddish and Snowy Egrets, Tricoloured, Great BlueGreen, and Yellow-Crowned Night Herons





It was around these water bodies that I saw one or two American Crocodiles. There were sign posts detailing their presence and advising for visitors to be aware! I also Saw a Manatee just close offshore in the shallows.


Introduced Mexican Iguanas were all over the place.


In terms of Raptors I had Sharp-shinned Hawks and Kestrels in the Parks,




as I mentioned before Ospreys and Turkey Vutures were very common and out in Key Biscayne were a number of Black Vultures, as well as RedShouldered Hawks and a single Male Northern Harrier


Ive forgotten to mention Wildfowl etc and besides a couple of Piedbilled grebes, RedBreasted Mergansers and Common Loons that was it really. 

Im sure I’ve missed things off as I often do with these big posts but thats the general feel of the trip. I will probably be going back next year and Will do my best to get to the everglades, theres still plenty to see!










Settling back into the London gulling season

The past few months Ive been concentrating on birding out of London, in an attempt to get the most of the autumn season. Today however was a return to the normal kind of London birding that gets me through the winter. RB DS and I had a look at Creekmouth where we had a nice 1st winter Caspian Gull (below) that Dante had seen the week previous. one or two Yellow Legged gulls were also present. 


I decided to check the Eagle Pond near Snaresbrook for a regular returning Caspian Gull that hadn’t been seen so far this year. The bird turned up in 2015 as a first winter, was seen again on the Eagle pond by Stuart fisher as a second winter and I saw it last year as a third winter. Now its a 4th calander year bird and a real nice bird. It has stuck around all winter each year so theres opportunity for people to see it. 






After wards i Bumped into this big 1st winter Caspian at Leyton Tip, first I’ve seen here in a couple of years.


Also present was an adult YLG and a good number of Argentatus type Herring Gulls, below is a 1cy (and an adult behind the post). The tip here is always good for these northerners and ive often wondered why,  as i do see remarkably more here than on the Thames.







An excellent day in Kent with Rich and Dante. We made moves to catch up with the adult Summer plumaged White Billed Diver that had been sitting on the sea around the Margate Area the previous day or two.  Whilst looking (with no luck) from Botany Bay the Swift sp that had reportedly gone to roost the night before was suddenly in front of Dante and I. It was a challenge at times but I could see that this (juvenile) bird had pale median coverts fading gradually into the greater coverts without a sharp contrast with the secondaries from below and photos showed that the paler upper greater coverts contrasted with the darker secondaries from above. The face and head pattern was one of smooth transitions between tones too, with pale lores and suited Pallid Swift. photos made it easier to see other crucial features that support this ID shown in the photos below.


t5 and t6 being the same length as apposed to the longer t6 in Common Swift.



I’d read the article in BB over the summer and between us we remembered most of the features but not recently enough for full confidence, despite this I tweeted out that the features suited Pallid which got a mixed reaction with many nay sayers. I’m happy with it as an experience and was glad to have the chance to look at it as a ‘Swift sp’ rather than coming to a conclusion based on a certain preconception.

News broke quickly after of the Whereabouts of the Diver and we made it over there in no time. I should add it was a tick for me.





This picture of course does it no justice but it was amazing. AMAZING.

We checked our Dover patch at Langdon Hole with no luck and headed to Dungeness for the Gulls and to look at a juvenile Lesser Yellow Legs that had turned up on the Midrips pools on the firing ranges just over the border in East Sussex.



A beautiful place to look at a brilliant bird and just the three of us too.

Next a perfect end to the day and nothing makes us happier than chucking hovis at large gulls by the fishing boats, there were 2 Caspian Gulls present, a first and a second winter which we watched along side Richard Smith and Martin Casemore.





A Great Day and a really great mix of birds. well done everyone

Richard’s Pipit Beachy Head

A day spent birding Beachy Head with Laurence P started off nicely with a fly over Richard’s pipit that I picked up on call above our heads moments after getting out the car, we both quickly got onto the bird which called another 3 or so times and flew beyond belle tout. It seemed to go down near the set aside fields towards the track that leads to Cornish farm. nb: this bird was accepted by the Sussex rarities committee. dec.18


There’s a vast amount of habitat for a bird like this on Beachy head (above) and despite a good bit of time looking the bird wasn’t seen again. A satisfying record nonetheless and nice to share with a pal. 


Birding was abit ‘audio only’ after that, with a Ring Ouzel alarming, fly over Bramblingssiskins and Redpoll and then a Yellow Browed Warbler up Birling lane that was heard to call several times whilst we watched one or two Firecrests in the pines there.


A long day and a large percentage of the area covered on foot, other highlights were a ShortEared Owl flushed from the cliff near Cow Gap, a small raft of Common Scoter on the sea and a single Golden Plover over.