This weekend could have been so different. Friday lunchtime, and news of an Ascension Frigatebird chilling out on a harbour wall on Islay meant that another trip north was on the cards. However, news filtered out that it had flown off before the usual spurious rumours about further sightings filtered out. Looking forward to my parents arriving for a nice day out, for once I decided to act sensibly and chill out and let the rest of the big d*ck players head north. I awoke on Saturday with some relief, though not totally unsurprised - and went on to have a relaxing, nice day in the sun visiting some of London's tourist attractions with good food and company. This only slightly tempered by one of the local birders, Mike R, finding perhaps one of last year's Bonaparte's Gulls (now in summer plumage) at Crossness.
Today, the chillout in the sun time continued albeit with an early start. The Bonaparte's Gull showed pretty well throughout the day (I had an early morning showing and then returned in the afternoon). Nice to see a slim yank amongst our fat Black-headed Gulls. I've had these images looked over by American gullers just to see whether they could nail any 3cy characters, but unfortunately not so. Just like our Black-headed Gulls, a 3cy Bonaparte's would show a dark smudge on the primary-coverts as well as perhaps some dark shafts in the outer primaries, smudges on tertials or an isolated dark mark in the tail. However, these features can be moulted out by Black-headed Gulls by this time of year, so the same is probably true for Bonaparte's Gulls (as well as some 3cy Bonaparte's and Black-headed Gulls just mimicking adults anyway). There were also a couple of adult Mediterranean Gulls that appeared, and then disappeared, as well as a Little Egret on the Thames foreshore early morning.
I'd arranged to team up with John A, James L and Graeme S to do a bit of summertime nature watching in Kent. First on the agenda were the Heath Fritillaries at East Blean Woods that, as usual, showed pretty well mid morning before they started to get a bit more active with increased heat.
Nearby, at least three male Red-veined Darters were seen. Very nice to see, though must admit that Odonate aren't my speciality and I just duded it up, enjoying these little critteres, with special thanks to James L for use of his macro and 70-200mm lenses.
Back in Rotherhithe, I saw my first juvenile Black-headed Gulls of the summer here as well as a 2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull on one of the barges near Greenland Pier. This rounded off a pretty good, sun-soaked weekend. Just five days of crazy kids in boling classrooms to deal with now.