Sunday, 15 January 2017

Five Caspian Gulls in London - let me introduce you to them

I went to Pitsea yesterday with Jamie P, and it wasn't great - the juvenile Glaucous Gull was there again but little else, not even a Caspian Gull. But today has been a little bit different - managed to drag myself out the house just after nine this morning having had a lovely meal with my parents and Karen the evening before. And so in the pouring rain I joined the ever enthusiastic (and youthful) Dante S who'd managed to tape an umbrella to the railings at Lyle Park to keep (semi-) dry. Jamie P turned up a little later and his method of keeping dry was rather more unsuccessful.

Anyway, it turned out to be a fantastic morning of gulls. At Lyle Park, there were four familiar 1st-winter Caspian Gulls along with a brute of a 1st-winter Yellow-legged Gull. Then we headed off to the O2 in Greenwich where there were two 1st-winter Caspian Gulls - a new bird that I'd not seen before and one of the birds from Lyle Park. And so five 1st-winter Caspian Gulls brightened up the dank day weather wise.

Let me introduce you to all of them personally: -

Caspian Gull 'Lyle'
As the name suggests, Lyle has been hanging about Lyle Park since mid-November and you can be sure to find it either there or nearby on the foreshore at Thames Barrier Park. A classic, crisp 1st-winter.

'Lyle' at Lyle Park, London 15th January 2017

Caspian Gull 'Otis'
Otis has been around for about as long as Lyle, but isn't quite as faithful and seems to go missing from time to time. It has a number of newly moulted coverts and shows thinner arrowheads on its scapulars compared to Lyle, and some fairly uniform grey ones too. A nice distinctive bird that I've been enjoying seeing this winter, mainly at Lyle Park: -

'Otis' at Lyle Park, London 15th January 2017

Caspian Gull 'Mucky'
A much more, as its name suggests, darker and muckier individual that I think is an altogether smaller bird than Otis and Lyle - so possibly a female. Mucky can be recognised by some heavily marked scapulars and a pale-ish base to its bill. Today, Mucky started off at Lyle before following us to the O2 later on in the morning

'Mucky' at Lyle Park (top) and O2 Greenwich (bottom) on 15th January 2017

Caspian Gull 'Darky'
As the slightly politically incorrect name suggests, there is something a bit more coloured than usual on this 1st-winter Caspian Gull - though it avoided my camera in the pouring rain today, it is a distinctive individual with fairly obvious dark centres to a lot of its scapulars. And it tends to hang about at Lyle Park.
'Darky' at Lyle Park, London on 2nd January 2017

Caspian Gull - new bird 'Slick'
As well as the three birds mentioned above, there was also a regular bird with dark scapular markings at Lyle (distantly and in the pouring rain) as well as this beautiful new bird that was at the O2 in Greenwich around lunchtime. A real quality, pompous individual that I'm calling 'Slick' from now on.

'Slick' at Greenwich O2, London 15th January 2017
Add in a couple of 1st-winter Yellow-legged Gulls and a few gull rings, and public transport birding in London - all within three miles of my home - doesn't look too shoddy.

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