Saturday, 21 July 2012

Great day's gulling

I've got that bloody torch to thank for today's decent day. Received a text from Josh early morning, just before he headed my way, to say the Olympic torch was leaving Greenwich 7.21am - exactly when we'd have been going through the place on the way to Crossness. So a rapid change of plan and we headed to Rainham and parked by the stone barges. And on the first scan, a Caspian Gull was making itself look obvious on the near side of the gull flock. As usual, a bit of a beast of a bird sitting higher mantled than the surrounding Herrings and LBBs.
2nd-summer Caspian Gull - note the advanced state of moult with the inner greater-coverts moulted through. White mirror in old P10 noticeable on this image too. Tail feathers largely retained, forming a pretty scraggy tail band.

2nd-summer Caspian Gull - fortuitously standing in front of a Yellow-legged Gull, so you can just about (?) detect the paler mantle tone.
A Sandwich Tern flew high upriver at 8.30am, the stillness of the day allowing its call to carry what was at least half a mile. Rainham was ripe with Yellow-legged Gulls with at least 40 seen during the course of the morning; many adults, 2nd-summers and at least a dozen juveniles too. For once this year, the sun was a bit bright and a lot of haze got up and made decent shots tricky. While having a chat with a couple of typical Rainham-style punters over the finer details of Grey Herons and explaining that watching gull was a sign of a mis-spent youth, a really fresh juvenile Med Gull appeared in view - my first juv of the year and looking at its plumage state, can't really have been away from its colony long. A couple of Common Gulls were present too, but there was a real dearth of significant numbers of juvenile Black-headed Gulls once again.
juvenile Mediterranean Gull - about as fresh as they come out of the nest

One of many YLGs
Coming back home, we stopped off at Crossness which turned out to be pretty quiet in the heat with just half a dozen Common Sandpipers and 4 Black-tailed Godwits on the foreshore.
The London Olympics - the twattery has begun. No longer will I be able to get to Crossness with ease. If you're sticking around for it, enjoy. I won't be though.

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