Saturday, 19 May 2012

London's first bona fide Bonaparte's Gull

As always, I struggled to get up this morning but was on the patch at Crossness just before 7am.Overcast with not much doing on the Thames, but I enjoyed all the showy Whitethroats. It really was quiet in Barking Bay and off the golf centre with nada in the way of waders. So I walked east, heading for the paddocks to check for passers and any smalls on the flood. But I never got there...

I plonked my scope down by the incinerator outfall, hoping that yesterday's Med Gull might still be around. Scanning the gulls along the foreshore, I tracked onto something that immediately made woke me up, gave me a real rush of adrenaline. For bloody ever, John A, Ian M and I have always been saying that this will be where London's first Bonaparte's gets found. And, f**k me right there was a proper candidate. It needed to fly (to nail the underwing), come a bit closer but it was going to be one for sure. And with every second counting and John A unable to get out (but he did on my call!), the big dick London players were tipped off to be on their way. I also gave Hawky a call on the north side, and just as all this commotion was going on, the bad boy obliged and came closer - and it was, as expected, a properly nice 1st-summer Bonaparte's Gull. London's first bona fide Bonaparte's - RBA and Jerry were duly called, so time to get the party started.

The bird flew west after a short while, and Hawky did a proper bit of squinting and expertly picked it up on our side of the river from his side. This was as John A arrived, so the three of us had seen it now. But, just before Crossness's longest stalwart Ian M arrived it did the dirty and headed upriver. Good to see a few guys turn up pretty quickly - Bob W, James L, James H, Johnny A, Mick S - but it was Keith H who relocated it west of the lighthouse on the far side of the Thames. So it was now time for Hawky and Shaun H to get the shots, while London's number 1 Andrew M, Roy B, Andrew S and Andrew V had to make do with distant views from our side. I left when a certain annoyingly vocal crowd member arrived, drowning out even the raucous local Starlings.
There is one accepted London record of Bonaparte's Gull as it stands - a first-winter seen at Barn Elms on 29th Jan 1983. This record is in need of reappraisal as the single observer has supplied Surrey and southwest London's birders with a lot of reports of good birds that they have not seen. So everyone (apart from one man) is treating this bad boy as London's first...


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  2. Top find Rich, be sure to call in at least a pint from each London lister who saw it.

  3. Beauty! Congrats. Hope it comes over here.

  4. Nice find Richard - local patching pays off, a coupla fingers to North Norfolk...........

    Laurie -