Istanbul Caspian Gulls

 

2 nights stay in Istanbul for Amy’s birthday. The destination was her choice but I was defiantly pleased as I had an inkling it would be good for gulls.

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I’d heard mixed reviews from ‘a good number of caspian gulls’ to ‘none at all!’ and I guess dates have alot to do with that. However in between the multitude of Yellow-Legs I probably saw 40+ Caspian Gulls. There were also a mix of Canus and Heninei Common Gulls, (Blog post for them coming soon) thousands of Blackheaded and one or two Slender Billed gulls.

Despite it being a trip to see the cultural and historic delights of Istanbul and not a Caspian paparazzi outing I managed to photograph a good few birds, Many more were seen just flying around, following boats and sat around in the small harbour at Kadikoy. I didn’t locate the best spot for seeing birds on the deck but here’s selection of the birds I photographed:

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This next bird was a delight, following the boat for 5 minutes giving point black views sometimes even too close for the 100-400mm Zoom.

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The only other age other than 1st winters were a couple of 2nd winters, this one below with tiny p10 mirrors.

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The Sound of a few Caspian Gulls squabbling over bread was music to my ears and I think i’l make an effort to get out that direction again before April arrives.

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Adult Bonaparte’s Gull, Erith

The Sunday before last I was driving away from a fairly quiet morning gulling in the Crayford area when I got a text from Dante, “We just found a Bonies, Erith Pier” my heart sunk as i couldn’t go and see the bird and having been there myself at low tide that morning I’d have loved to have been there for the find. Hey ho, and very happy for Rich and Dante picking it up on call! Today was the first chance I’ve had to go ad see it and despite it not been reported for over a week it came to bread at the end of the pier and performed a treat, often being the closest bird and calling on a few occasions.  A truly wonderful bird.

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Strong sunlight gave the bird an alien impression when flying into the light, very distinctive translucency in the wing.

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Other than that I’ve seen a couple of Caspian Gulls since the last blog post. below a pic of the Polish regular p:985 from Crayford.

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…and below some shots from Erith a week a so ago. Firstly German Ringed Caspian from Laßig colony (quite a nice German bird)

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Followed by this nice 2nd winter which seems to be new to the area.

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and this slim dark 1st winter Casp, which has been seen at Crayford before.

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Finally a big ol’ 1w Yellow-Legged Gull. 

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Ringed Adult and Repeat Casp at Crayford

3 Hours at Crayford Viridor today with Dante and I closely missed a/the Glaucous Gull which may or may not have been the bird from last weekend. I picked up an Adult Caspian Gull which turned out to be Ringed. Green XUDU from Germany, ringed as a chick in 2013, have a look at the history below.

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The only other Caspian Gull was this one which was loafing on jolly farmers and also seen on the roof at Viridor. 

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Dante recognised it from my photos of a bird at Dungeness and low and behold… it is the same bird! (dunge pic below)

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Another brief but enjoyable trip to the delightful Viridor Recycling centre and its scenically stunning surrounding area.

The day previous to this I visited Laurence Pitcher on the south coast, we had a look at what (at the time) was a suppressed Humes Leaf Warbler,which only really the Sussex locals seemed to know about, despite it being in a busy public park. A new bird for me and very interesting. I couldn’t believe the call and how pied wagtail like it was, no pics as it was a bugger to pin down. Earlier that morning we checked Newhaven Harbour for Glaucous Gulls of which there was a juv on the beach.

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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 .

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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.

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

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

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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.

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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

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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.)

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

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

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

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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.

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

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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. 

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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.

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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.

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

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Parulas below…

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Prairie Warblers below…

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Black and White Warblers below…

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Below, Cape May Warblers…

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Pine Warbler

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Black throated Blue Warblers

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1st yr fem American Redstart…

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next, a real highlight – Yellow-Throated Warbler…

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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. 

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Common Yellowthroats were vocal but shy except this individual…

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

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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.

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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.

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Blueheaded and White-Eyed Vireos.

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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

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ShortBilled Dowitchers, Least and Spotted Sandpipers and a single Kildeer

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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

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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.

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Introduced Mexican Iguanas were all over the place.

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

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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

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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!

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