Sunday, 7 May 2017

London spring birding with decent ducks, waders and gulls

After the excitement of last weekend, it was back to urban birding today and yesterday. And it was really enjoyable. In fairly dull conditions yesterday, I headed out with Jamie P to Crossness where we had a bit of wader action - two lovely Bar-tailed Godwits the undoubted highlight as they fed near the golf centre on the Thames foreshore, while nine Grey Plover flew from Barking Bay towards Rainham just as the last mud was being covered. A steady passage of Swallows (and a single Sand Martin) too.
Bar-tailed Godwits Crossness, London 6th May 2017
And that was that. Time to get back to the larids, and lobbing bread off Princess Alice Way, Thamesmead has become a new routine of mine. Mid morning, and within five minutes of lobbing the loaves, this German beaut turned up - as far as I'm aware, it hasn't been seen anywhere since it was seen by Dante and Jamie at Thames Barrier Park on 20th November last year (having been ringed at Grabendorfer See, Brandenberg on 6th June 2016 as a chick): -

1st-summer Caspian Gull X090 Thamesmead, London 6th May 2017
We headed out of London for a bit, and to Cliffe. Not sure why we went if I am honest, but felt like a decent move. I guess a couple of Cuckoos, a singing Nightingale and a couple of Whimbrel were birds I wouldn't see too easily in my usual birding areas. We returned after an hour or two, taking in seconds of the Caspian Gull at Thamesmead and scouring the gulls in Rotherhithe to little avail.

Today, and it was back to Thamesmead for the midday high tide. Just a first-summer Yellow-legged Gull of note there so over the Thames on the Woolwich Ferry to Thames Barrier Park, somewhere I'd not visited for a month or so. A quick scattering of bread, and after shifting position from near the barrier to the usual winter spot, I had my eyes on another German 1st-summer Caspian Gull. This time it was X319, a bird I'd seen here previously on 4th February that had also been seen at Beddington in January and prior to that in the Netherlands in November last year (having been ringed at the same site and on the same date as yesterday's Casp X090).

1st-summer Caspian Gull X319 Thames Barrier Park, London 7th May 2017
I then headed to the O2, where Jamie had scored another Casp (a new individual), but having failed to see that I had to make do with three 2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gulls.
2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull O2 Greenwich, London 7th May 2017
A very nice way to finish off the weekend before the carnage commences once again in the morning. And I nearly forgot to say that on Wednesday evening, I had five of these (four drakes and a female) outside my flat on Greenland Dock - the first ones I have seen in Rotherhithe.
drake Red-crested Pochard Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe, London 3rd May 2017


  1. Hi! I've been reading your blog as I'm starting a research project on gulls - but without being particularly knowledgeable about where to find them and birding in general! I wanted to ask if you have any recommendations for places in London where gulls seem to often be? Thanks!

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