Friday 30 June 2017

Recent update from the Thames

It has been a long time since I did an update, mainly because despite being out and about at weekends and checking the Rotherhithe gulls occasionally during the week, the typical late May and June big city birding (and working) has taken its toll. Very, very slow despite continuing to spend money on the loaves. I have had a few mild highlights during the period to punctuate the birding boredom, but predictably it has been a little quiet.

I guess the highlights though would be a rather diminutive 1st-summer Caspian Gull that spent a couple of hours on the mud by the O2 in Greenwich on 30th May and a brief juvenile Iceland Gull with Jamie P at Thames Barrier Park on 4th June - he got the shots as he was, as usual, quicker off the mark than me!
1st-summer Caspian Gull Greenwich O2, London 30th May 2017
Yellow-legged Gulls have been about in Greenwich and Thames Barrier Park on a relatively regular basis, with the numbers starting to creep up and new individuals coming and going with a bit of passage. Mainly first and particularly second-summers: -
2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 29th May 2017
2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 29th May 2017
2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 4th June 2017
1st-summer Yellow-legged Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 24th June 2017
Other than that, not a lot to say really apart from the rings continued a little bit including the following: -
adult Lesser Black-backed Gull 'VU' Greenwich 1st June 2017 - ringed in Bristol in 1997
1st-summer Herring Gull '659' Rotherhithe 11th June 2017 - ringed in Portland Harbour, Dorset 11th August 2016
Looking forward to July which will kick off with juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls soon enough...

Sunday 11 June 2017

Elegant Tern in Sussex today

Back in the summer of 1999, I remember heading over to Lady's Island Lake in County Wexford for the second Elegant Tern for Britain and Ireland (following the first, in Northern Island in 1981). This bird showed nicely in the colony there, displaying everything you'd expect in the species with a whacking carrot bill and white rump. In those days there was still a large element of incredulity that such a Pacific coast species could turn up (with such regularity) over here.

And so the pattern went on, and it was a crazy case of going to see any 'orange-billed tern showing features of Elegant' at that time - just because you didn't know which one was going to look better than the previous! But in essence, they all looked pretty damn good and the likelihood is that the five Elegant Terns I've seen previously relate to less than five individual birds - saw further singles, following the Lady's Island bird in July 1999, at Dawlish in July 2002, Porthmadog a few days after that, then singles in Dorset in May 2005 and a bird at Beale Strand, Kerry in September 2013 (the same place as I saw the Royal Tern last summer). At the same time, in France, they'd managed to ring three of these type of terns (see here for more detail) which culminated in DNA testing they were in fact Elegant Terns.

When one of these French birds turned up last week (Bird C in the article), it was therefore time to make a move for it once it had settled in the tern colony at Church Norton, Pagham harbour. The sixth one I've seen, but knowing this bird is an Elegant Tern DNA wise means that's the job done as it were - can't get better than that, though the views were rather sub-optimal in the heat haze: -
Elegant Tern Church Norton, West Sussex 11th June 2017
You can't have everything, and being just a couple of hours from London, it made for a pleasant morning out with John A. Loads of nice Med Gulls too, which is always a bonus.

Managed to get a bit closer to Elegant Terns a couple of months ago as they roosted outside my hotel in Arica, Chile so rude not to post a couple of shots here: -

Elegant Terns Arica, Chile April 2017