Saturday, 28 November 2015

Back to the Casps at Dunge today

Last weekend, Porto offered a brief diversion from the regular trips down the M20 to Dungeness. But it was back to business as usual today and mid-morning I was down by the fishing boats at Dungeness. No Mick S or Richard S today, so I was on my own for feeding time. A bucket of fish scraps, cornflakes and twelve loaves of bread were the ingredients for the day.
Long-eared Owl Dungeness RSPB, Kent 28th November 2015
On the RSPB reserve, after seeing a pretty inactive Long-eared Owl (which was thrilling the punters nonetheless), I headed to the Makepeace Hide early a'noon and locked onto my first Caspian Gull of the day, a first-winter. There were a couple of guys who'd gone in there especially to look for the species so I immediately let them know and gave them directions. This was greeted with 'are you sure it isn't a Great Black-backed Gull?' to which I replied very bluntly 'Yes'. I've had this before in RSPB reserves where the needy swivel around and then question those trying to help. Here's the evidence anyway: -
1st-winter Caspian Gull Dungeness RSPB, Kent 28th November 2015
And back in the visitor centre it got slightly better. There was a first-winter Caspian Gull sitting down on one of the islands (different to the bird above, and could possibly have been the ringed Polish bird but I didn't see its legs) while a near-adult bird (with a blackish gonys, retained dark on the tertials and a bit of black in the tail) was busy preening in the water nearby. Once again, I thought I'd be helpful and let people know - this time, the punters were gracious though getting some onto the right island was just the start of my troubles. So I needn't go on to how it progressed from there, but in summary some people probably saw random gulls. Anyway, I genuinely give credit to any birder who regularly birds RSPB reserves - the general level of f*ckwittery I experienced within an hour today drove me back to the solitude and sanctity of my car, and back to the puddles near the fishing boats, where it was just me and the seagulls. And this beauty mid afternoon was the undoubted star of the show: -

1st-winter Caspian Dungeness Point, Kent 28th November 2015
This smart 1st-winter Caspian Gull made it four for the day, and along with four Norwegian Great Black-backed Gulls (including two new rings) that was it. With the wind picking up and a hailstorm darkening the skies, London beckoned.

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