Monday, 5 May 2014

Patchwork highs and lows over the Bank Holiday

I've felt a bit stifled this weekend. Having to go into school on Saturday (due to imminent exams) didn't help, but an evening visit to Crossness on Saturday was really poor if not pleasant in the spring sunshine. I don't think I saw a bird that didn't breed there, so highlighting in a couple of Little Ringed Plovers. A 2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull on the barges on the Thames at Rotherhithe was the first one I'd seen for a while.

Yesterday, I wanted to mix things up a little and get out of London for a bit. These days, there are rarely birds that really get me wanting to drive copious miles, and with the Great Spotted Cuckoo in Cornwall just too far (I've only ever seen one in Britain), I settled on a leisurely afternoon and evening at Dungeness with Karen. The birding was standard with an adult Little Gull, an Arctic Skua, eight Arctic Terns and the odd Whimbrel and Bar-tailed Godwit past The Patch mid early afternoon while a walk round the RSPB reserve produced the odd Hobby and a load of summer songsters included a Cuckoo. Nice enough, and Dengemarsh was looking pretty rare, though the highlight of the day was a 'fisherman's roll' from the Dungeness Fish Hut. Enough said.
Bar-tailed Godwits, Crossness 5th May 2014
Today though, there'd been a bit of a pick up in the breeze and yesterday's southerly had banked round to give a bit more easterly in it. Though it was clear and sunny once again, a couple of Bar-tailed Godwits on the foreshore at Crossness were enough for me to go home with, given the state of play over the last couple of weekends. One in full summer kit, the other in full winter attire. A Black Tern that had gone through Gallion's Reach never reached me, and except 2 Dunlin and 5 Ringed Plovers, it was just the local birds that were chilling out on the river.

Back in Rotherhithe, having walked through Russia Dock Woodland and along The Thames, I was stood at the end of Rope Street late afternoon just checking on the local gulls near Greenland Pier. I'd been looking skyward for most of the day, and then scanning over towards Canary Wharf I clapped eyes on something. It was one of those quick identifications - a Honey Buzzard - standard plumage (dark underwing coverts and a line across the secondaries), long tail, long wings held flat and that was that. No indecision or thoughts of Common Buzzard; it gradually started to rise over the south end of the Isle of Dogs, spreading its long tail and showing a kinked inner wing with bulging secondaries in the process, before heading off northeast. I believe this is the first in London this year, and the first one I've seen/found for over a decade in the UK!

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