Friday 28 July 2017

Caspian and Bonaparte's Gulls plus a Black-headed Gull from Lithuania

There seems to be a fair few gulls on the move locally. Not least was this 1st-summer Caspian Gull at Thames Barrier Park on Saturday. It's a new individual into London, and not one of the remnants from last winter. First seen by David DL on Friday morning, and nice to catch up on this relatively matted, dark mantled bird - a real brute too: -

1st-summer Caspian Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 22nd July 2017
Other than this bird, it has been nice to find Yellow-legged Gulls really locally. No juveniles yet in Rotherhithe but the mud by the Hilton Hotel continues to draw them in - three on 22nd July (two 2nd-summers and a 1st-summer) being the highest count and my first juvenile here today - and a regular adult on Greenland Dock continued to linger until 16th July.
adult Yellow-legged Gull Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe 16th July 2017
near-adult Yellow-legged Gull River Thames, Rotherhithe 16th July 2017

1st-summer Yellow-legged Gull River Thames, Rotherhithe 15th July 2017
 Little else doing though, so a visit to the wader mecca of Cliffe with Jamie P and Dante on 15th was in order. Great birds but poor, distant views - a really early juvenile Marsh Sandpiper and 10(!) Black-winged Stilts, three adults and seven juveniles! Gone are the days when Sammy or the odd vagrant was your only sniff of a chance with this species. And yesterday, 27th July, Dante and I made a quick trip out to Oare Marshes where the regular adult Bonaparte's Gull was showing well, and the wader fest contained a nice adult Curlew Sandpiper. A white-ringed juvenile Mediterranean Gull there too had been ringed in Antwerp in mid-June, so that was good to see, as was a single Garganey.
adult Bonaparte's Gull Oare Marshes, Kent 27th July 2017
On return to London, we stopped off at Thamesmead in the hope of baiting a few large gulls in. However, this didn't happen and we had to be content with the smalls which included this inquisitive adult Black-headed Gull all the way from Lithuania (awaiting full ring details): -
Lithuanian-ringed Black-headed Gull Thamesmead, London 27th July 2017

Thursday 20 July 2017

juvenile Caspian Gulls in Romania - a belated post

Late July last year (2016) I headed out to Romania and never got round to posting my images. I have a feeling it was because as soon as I got back, I headed straight out to Namibia. Essentially it was a post-school break up trip to see a few juvenile Caspian Gulls, but given the amount of general birdlife about, it was just a nice break if I'm honest - Red-footed Falcons, Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes. So just in time for this year's influx of eastern yutes into the UK, here is a reminder of what they look like - slick, dark based tertials with that typical 'thumbnail', medium brown upperparts with delicate pale edgings, nice dark based greater-coverts, barrel-chested, pale/lightly barred underwing and nice slim, long legs. Enjoy the shots...
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juvenile Caspian Gulls Mamaia/Vadu, Romania July 2016
I enjoyed it so much that, you never know, I might even go again at some point!

Sunday 9 July 2017

Yellow-legged Gulls have arrived in London

July starts to feel slightly autumnal. The Black-headed Gulls have been piling through this week, including quite a few juveniles, and there seems to be generally a lot more gulls in London by the day. I managed to squeeze in an hour or so at the O2 on Thursday evening, where there were four Yellow-legged Gulls which included this pretty nice looking juvenile: -

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich O2, London 6th July 2017
Meanwhile back in Rotherhithe the same afternoon, there was a first-summer on the River Thames and an adult on Greenland Dock that showed quite nicely too: -
adult Yellow-legged Gull Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe, London 6th July 2017
Having managed to get myself out of bed yesterday morning, I just caught a bit of mud on the rising tide in Rotherhithe and managed two second-summers by the Hilton Hotel: -

second-summer Yellow-legged Gulls Rotherhithe, London 8th July 2017
While today, I headed to Thames Barrier Park with Jamie and Dante, and it seemed that the Yellow-legged Gull summer party was now in full flow with a total of 13 birds - 4 juveniles, 5 first-summers, a second-summer, two near-adults and an adult! Really enjoyable midsummer gulling just a few miles from home. 

juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls (above 6 photos) Thames Barrier Park, London 9th July 2017

1st-summer Yellow-legged Gulls (above 3 photos) Thames Barrier Park, London 9th July 2017
near-adult Yellow-legged Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 9th July 2017
second-summer Yellow-legged Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 9th July 2017
And back in Rotherhithe, the same adult Yellow-legged Gull was on Greenland Dock again. So that is that, another weekend gone and just two more weeks of school left.

Saturday 1 July 2017

The new season kicks off in style

It seems like a long while since I have had a decent day on the Thames. But today did eventually materialise into a decent haul, despite the first few hours being as quiet as the last few weeks. I'd decided to give the O2 and Thames Barrier Park a thorough going over during the low tide period today, particularly with a 1.50pm low tide which is about as ideal as it gets. Starting off at Thames Barrier Park, things were quiet with just a second-summer Yellow-legged Gull and it was the same at the O2 - a single second-summer Yellow-legged Gull (plus the regular Lesser Black-backed Gull ringed in Bristol in 1997).
2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull O2 Greenwich, London 1st July 2017
So that was that, and it even got to the stage where I phoned up Alan C to ask him how the Bee-eaters were showing and also completely put Dante S off coming to join me as it was so quiet. So it was back on the tube one stop to Canning Town, then two stops down on the DLR back to Thames Barrier Park. And look what I then found: -

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 1st July 2017
This is my equal earliest ever juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, on the same date as I saw my first in 2015. I had kind of been hoping for one this weekend, especially with the flock that hit Dungeness during the week. And so with the first juvenile large gull predictably this species, it is now officially the start of the new gull watching season! Then with the next loaf of bread, in came the first Caspian Gull from last season - X307 - which is a German-ringed bird from the Grabendorfer See colony. Now looking worse for wear plumage wise, although some nice new primaries evident, it has always and still is one of the more marginal birds: -

1st-summer Caspian Gull X307 Thames Barrier Park, London 1st July 2017
There were also a sprinkling of Yellow-legged Gulls about, probably five in total, with all but one being second-summers: -

2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gulls Thames Barrier Park, London 1st July 2017
And then back at Rotherhithe, on the dock next to my flat, there was a nice close encounter with another second-summer Yellow-legged Gull: -
2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe, London 1st July 2017
Three more weeks of school left, and the summer holidays can't come soon enough.