Thursday, 23 July 2015

juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls - July photos

So since the last update, it’s been more of the same. On Sunday morning, I had a pretty impressive count of four Yellow-legged Gulls by my flat in Rotherhithe – an adult and three juveniles. I then headed off to Dungeness and spent an enjoyable afternoon with Mick S and Richard S by the fishing boats – 5 Yellow-legged Gulls (an adult and 4 juveniles) and a first-summer Mediterranean Gull the highlights. Having finished for the summer on Tuesday, baiting the local seagulls (that incidentally haven’t attacked me despite all the media hysteria) today and yesterday produced a single Yellow-legged Gull on both days. I also headed to Greenwich yesterday where on the mud by the O2 there were yet more Yellow-legged Gulls – eight in total (two adults, a first-summer and five juveniles). This included an intriguing juvenile, with easily the palest underwing I’d ever seen on the species: -

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich 22nd July 2015 - the underwing is most atypical for the species but the tail pattern, tailing off in broadness on the outer rectrices, and chequered greater-coverts are both pro-michahellis features along with the notching on the lower scapulars.
Anyway, some of you may be relieved by what I’m going to say now. There’ll be no gull focused posts for a few weeks as I’m heading off for a bit – but for those of you who’ve enjoyed the juvenile Yellow-legged Gull season here are a few of the highlights since 1st July: -

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich 1st July 2015 - first of the season (above two images)
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich 4th July 2015 
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Dungeness 5th July 2015 - note the dark underwing and barred axillaries
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Dungeness 5th July 2015
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Dungeness 5th July 2015
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Rotherhithe 7th July 2015
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Rotherhithe 8th July 2015 - note the more heavily barred tail compared to the image above; a way of trying to note different individuals on a daily basis
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich 11th July 2015
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich 12th July 2015 - a fairly pale looking individual
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich 12th July 2015
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich 18th July 2015
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Rotherhithe 18th July 2015
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Rotherhithe 18th July 2015
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Dungeness 19th July 2015
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Dungeness 19th July 2015
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Dungeness 19th July 2015

Sunday, 19 July 2015

Yellow-legged Gull heaven in southeast London

Since the last update, I've tried to get myself out locally as much as possible. It's a good time of year here in Rotherhithe and it seems also in Greenwich. That is, if gulls are your thing. With quite a few non-birding commitments last weekend, I decided to spend the time I had at Greenwich by the O2 - and along with several ringed gulls, on the Saturday there were eight Yellow-legged Gulls (a near-adult, two 1st-summers and five juveniles) and on Sunday even more - 13 birds (two near-adults, a 1st-summer and ten or so juveniles).

juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls Greenwich, London 11th and 12th July 2015
The working week was more hectic than it needed to be given it was the last full week of term; however on Tuesday evening the first Yellow-legged Gull - with yellow legs - in Rotherhithe this year was on the mud by the Hilton Hotel. The next evening there was a juvenile there too, along with an adult Common Gull.

sub-adult Yellow-legged Gull Rotherhithe, London 14th July 2015
And on to yesterday, Saturday. What is evident now is the upsurge in local juvenile gulls - the mud by the O2 yesterday morning held four juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls, but they were now outnumbered by juvenile Herring Gulls (along with a couple of typically dusky juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gulls).
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich, London 18th July 2015
Back in Rotherhithe, a bit of bread chucking on the River Thames near my flat produced the results quickly - a Norwegian white ringed Black-headed Gull and then two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls.
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Rotherhithe, London 18th July 2015
adult Black-headed Gull Rotherhithe, London 18th July 2015; ringed as a chick in Oslo, Norway in August 2011 and not seen since then
So that's that. I'll be heading off to Dungeness shortly for another session of gulls by the fishing boats with Mick S and Richard S...

Friday, 10 July 2015

Yellow-legged Gulls and old friends in Rotherhithe

There was quite a bit of gull movement on the river by my flat this week, especially on Tuesday and Wednesday. Post-work juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls on each day were nice, different individuals and both enjoying the daily rations of bread that I provide!
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull bird 1 - 7th July 2015

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull bird 2 - 8th July 2015

Compared to the 1st bird, note the more uniform dark tertials and greater barring on the rectrices
This evening, a 2nd-summer Herring Gull with a NTGG ring was on Greenland Dock - a bit of geeking at my spreadsheet when I got home showed that I'd seen it at Dungeness last November!
2nd-summer Herring Gull D9DT - ringed at Rainham Tip, London on 30th November 2013 and then I saw it at Dungeness on 9th November 2014. Nice to be reacquainted!
Hopefully this weekend will be another gull filled one.

Monday, 6 July 2015

If you like Yellow-legged Gulls (and Roseate Terns)...

It's been a busy week or so since the last post. I tried to muster up something last week but the heat here in London sapped any energy I had left after busy days at school (and with London's gulls). It does seem as though there is a bit of post breeding dispersal happening now...

And it started on the hottest day of the year, 1st July. After school, and with a mid evening low tide, I got myself to Greenwich. The inside bend of the meander by the O2 has a load of sediment exposed, and the gulls seem to love it at the moment. So much so, there was my earliest ever juvenile Yellow-legged Gull - a nice fresh bird - along with a second-summer. A handful of ringed birds too, including a Bristol ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull and a couple each from locally as well as Sussex.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich, London 1st July 2015 - nice fresh bird with wholly juvenile plumage. Note the tail band gradually reducing in width towards the outer rectrices.
And so to the weekend and a return to Greenwich on Saturday morning. Warm again, and the Yellow-legged Gulls were present again with at least two juveniles and a third-summer bird. One of the juveniles was a real brute, naively having a go at the local Great Black-backed Gulls. However Crossness was quiet and scanning through the Black-headed Gulls at the outfall didn't produce, unless a 1st-summer Common Gull counts (which it doesn't!).
juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich, London 4th July 2015 - quite a large, robust individual.
Finally on to yesterday (Sunday) and I actually enjoyed waking up to the grey skies and rain. A pleasant respite from the oppressive temperatures of the past few days. I headed down to Dungeness for the afternoon and met up with Mick S and Richard S. Always good to have a chat and sit about with the gulls - some nice bits about too. Not least a couple of really showy juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls; both a bit skittish and keeping away from the main flock a lot of the time.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls Dungeness, Kent 5th July 2015 (above four images) 
Added value came in the form of at least a couple of Med Gulls (a first-summer and at least one juvenile) plus some Scandinavian ringed brutish Great Black-backed Gulls and a couple of Thames ringed Herring Gulls.
1st-summer Great Black-backed Gull Dungeness, Kent 5th July 2015. Ringed as a chick at Knogen, Læsø, Nordjylland, Denmark on 2nd July 2014, seen on Terschelling, The Netherlands on 30th October 2014 and then Dungeness from 9th January 2015 onwards - I last saw it on 17th May!
2nd-summer Great Black-backed Gull Dungeness, Kent 5th July 2015. Ringed as chick Lille Vigeskjær, Lindesnes, Vest-Agder, Norway 4th July 2013; then seen at Minsmere 19th July 2014 and Dungeness from 27th July 2014 until last seen by myself on 8th November 2014.
1st-summer Great Black-backed Gull Dungeness, Kent 5th July 2015. Ringed as a chick at Risøy midtre, Mandal, Vest-Agder, Norway on 8th July 2014 and this is the first sighting since.
For most though, the headline bird of the day would have been this Roseate Tern that was lingering for a lot of the time I was present - though it did take me nearly three hours to walk the few hundred yards to see it. Having to withdraw myself from the melee was a real task.
adult Roseate Tern Dungeness, Kent 5th July 2015
So that's it for another weekend... just a couple more weeks and then the summer holiday party starts.

Sunday, 28 June 2015

A few birds starting to move locally

That's another weekend gone, and there has been a little bit more happening locally here in southeast London. I was trying to summon up ideas to get out into the countryside, but unless you're into flowers and the like, this time of year is best to just put in the hours locally and save up the effort for when things start moving later on.

And there are quite a lot of scruffy looking gulls here at the moment to keep me busy. Week nights have been spent going through them in Rotherhithe, mainly as they chill out on the moored barges by Greenland Quay. And then today and yesterday, I walked around the O2 Arena to the area of mud at the end that's exposed at low tide; yesterday lots of gulls but nothing of interest and then today, very different - 5 Yellow-legged Gulls (near adult, three 2nd-summers and a 1st-summer) plus a couple of NTGG rings and a new scheme too on a Lesser Black-backed Gull that I'm awaiting details on. There were also two Reed Warblers singing in the reeds by Antony Gormley's Quantum Cloud sculpture.

near adult Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich, London 28th June 2015 - same bird in both above photos; note the dark on the primary-coverts, reduced mirrors and dull yellow legs
2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich, London 28th June 2015
1st-summer Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich, London 28th June 2015
On Friday, I also added a new ringing scheme to Rotherhithe - a yellow ringed 2nd-summer Herring Gull ending in 'B' that'll have been ringed by the East Anglia Gull Group, most likely at Milton Tip near Cambridge (still awaiting details though).
2nd-summer Herring Gull Rotherhithe, London 26th June 2015 - 5V0B, ringed by the East Anglia Gull Group

Sunday, 21 June 2015

Always something locally

It has been a relatively quiet week, and having had my fill of Cretzschmar's Bunting on these shores on Orkney a few years ago, local birding was the flavour. And it was quiet, but quiet isn't always a bad thing. Time to relax, soak in those messy looking larids.

Local gulls haven't been too bad, with new birds moving through. Had a peak of 18 Lesser Black-backed Gulls on Tuesday in Rotherhithe, whilst three or four Great Black-backed Gulls have been lingering about amongst the knackered looking sub-adult Herring Gulls. An afternoon and early evening at Crossness produced the first juvenile Black-headed Gull (they don't breed there, and they're completely absent from Rotherhithe this time of year) along with a load of Lapwing - presumed failed breeders - and an adult Yellow-legged Gull.

All the above sound pretty mundane, and I guess it is. But it's not that bad - everything at Rotherhithe is a walk away, and with the long evenings and work (comparatively) quiet, I'm managing a fair bit of birding time. So here are a few regulars I'm seeing at the moment...
Herring Gull M0KT (1st-summer) - ringed at Pitsea, Essex on 27 September 2014, seen London Bridge on 19 April 2015 and then in Rotherhithe on 10 May 2015, 16 May 2015, 17 May 2015, 6 June 2015, 7 June 2015, 14 June 2015 and 18 June 2015.
Herring Gull M2LT (1st-summer) - ringed at Rainham, London on 2 January 2015, then seen in Rotherhithe on 29 March 2015, 18 June 2015 and today.
Herring Gull X2DT (3rd-summer) - ringed at Rainham, London 16 November 2013 and seen by me at Pitsea, Essex on 1 February 2014 and then at Dungeness, Kent on 14th February 2014 - before turning up in Rotherhithe on 18 June 2015.