Monday, 26 February 2018

Beast from the east birding

All this talk about the beast from the east (a reference to the current weather) had me all excited on Saturday. It was cold and for the first time in a long time, it was coming from the east - just what us London birders like. I had the opportunity of three things for the day - go up north to Thurso and search for a Taiga Merlin, head south and see another Ross's Gull or check London for its gulls. And of course, after a hectic first week back after half-term and the current weather, the last option won out and it was time to check the delights of south-east and east London.

It ended up hard work though, with the first couple of hours at Crayford being full of gulls but nothing remotely exciting (and Jamie P checked it a hour or so later and reached the same conclusion!). I headed west and back into London, and checked the distinct grimness of Southmere, Thamesmead. Located amidst a ghetto, frequented regularly by travellers and on this occasion someone told me the last couple of nights a Mute Swan had been mutilated there each night. Lovely place! But today, having parked up, I scanned the Black-headed Gulls and to my surprise there was a 1st-winter Little Gull in amongst them...
1st-winter Little Gull Thamesmead, London 24th February 2018
I was really happy with this, as it was just the second one to be found in London in 2018 (the first was an adult at Swanscombe less than a couple of hours before!) and for me, it's always nice to get these little wins when it comes to slogging urban turd holes looking for the birding equivalent of gold. This Danish Black-headed Gull was also frequenting the same ghetto: -
Danish ringed adult Black-headed Gull 'ZJB' Thamesmead, London 24th February 2018
Unfortunately the Little Gull was brief as it turned out, and despite waiting for over an hour, there was no repeat show and no opportunity to improve on the record shots I got initially. Therefore, I headed over to Thames Barrier Park via the Woolwich Ferry, where there were good numbers of Common Gulls and a first-winter Yellow-legged Gull. No Caspian Gull, which wasn't a surprise given the paucity of them this winter compared to 2016/17.

Not a bad day overall, as any February day in London with a Little Gull is notable enough in itself.

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