Saturday, 3 December 2011

Thames gulls and American peeps

Had a mooch around a few sites in southeast London today. Started off at Crayford where, on some wasteground, a large flock of larids had a 3rd-winter Yellow-legged Gull and a ringed Lesser Black-backed Gull (red ringed SN6T; this coding matches rings used by the North Thames Gull Group so I assume it'll come from Rainham or Pitsea - I'll update when I hear back from Paul Roper).
North side LBB
Cross Ness was quiet, with an adult and 2nd-winter Yellow-legged Gull amongst the small numbers of gulls on the foreshore. 500+ Dunlin were decent, but as always, there was nowt amongst them. I then had a walk around North Greenwich where there was a nice bright-legged Yellow-legged Gull opposite Greenwich Millenium Village and a few Teal. Not much else doing mind.

The most productive birding of the day was internet based, when in the early hours of this morning my old mate and one of the WP's finest photographers Vincent Legrand passed on a link of a Red-footed Falcon from the Azores... needless to say, he's no fool and a quick look revealed that it was an Amur Falcon (photos here, here and here)! Now those islands get a fair few vagrants, but this has to rank up there with the best.

And I almost went up for the Cley 'peep', but thought better of it after another tiring week and going to bed late. Although I've therefore not seen the bird, I actually thought it was a Semi-p until the 'Thursday shots' revealed some retained rather rufous-fringed feathers that made me reconsider. A really interesting bird. Here's one I found earlier... in September 2009 on the Azores.

At all times, it felt slick and streamline, and this bird fitted that classic 'miniature Dunlin' phrase that's often associated with Western Sandpiper. Obviously so much earlier in the season, you can't really compare much plumage wise. On the same trip, I bumped into this rather rufous-looking, long-billed Semipalmated Sandpiper (presumably an eastern female?).
Semipalmated Sandpiper, Corvo, early Sept 2009
What would a bird like this look like a couple of months on?

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