Saturday, 10 December 2016

Caspian Gulls and gulling in London

Things have changed a bit on the gulling front this winter. It seems as though Pitsea is on its way out, and with just a handful of trucks going up there on Saturday mornings, I haven't been there for a couple of months. Similarly, Rainham is not what it used to be but that has been happening for a few years now. The government's push for more incineration of waste has meant our gulls don't have those dumps to scavenge on.

On a much more positive note, and perhaps slightly related to the above, there do seem to be a lot more gulls around within 'zones 1 to 3' (tube map wise). The O2, which is a spot I've been doing regularly for a few years now, combined with a couple of sites slightly further east on the north side of the river - Lyle Park and Thames Barrier Park - have been decent recently. But add to that, and what is really great, is that there are two other (younger!) gullers who are doing some damage - namely Jamie Partridge and Dante Shepherd. It genuinely is nice not be be ploughing a lone furrow. In fact, it seems like there have now been nine Caspian Gulls in this area since September...

Anyway last Sunday and today, this beautiful and crisp 1st-winter Caspian Gull was favouring the foreshore at Thames Barrier Park (and earlier at Lyle Park) - enjoying a bit of bread at times too. You get some Caspian Gulls that are just fine to see, while others are quite memorable like this gorgeous thing. Really bright light last weekend in contrast today where it never actually got light!

Caspian Gull 1st-winter Thames Barrier Park/Lyle Park 4th December 2016
Caspian Gull (1st-winter) Thames Barrier Park 10th December 2016 (same bird as above)
A visit to Lyle Park this afternoon produced another 1st-winter Caspian Gull, significantly more advanced in moult on the coverts compared to the bird above: -
Caspian Gull (1st-winter) Lyle Park 10th December 2016 (new individual)
There were also three Yellow-legged Gulls today, an adult and two first-winters. And a few North Thames Gull Group rings - first-winter Herrings that had been ringed at Pitsea in November.

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