Sunday, 4 February 2018

Horned Lark at Staines and the usual suspects

Another weekend passes too quickly. Yesterday was one of those typically grim, grey and wet days which seem to be standard at the moment. After a morning hosting a bunch of kids for Saturday detention, I headed off to Crayford where things were fairly quiet - just an adult Yellow-legged Gull of note - while back in Rotherhithe there was a new Polish-ringed Black-headed Gull T8VE.

So on to today. Despite living in London and its extreme rarity status, I hadn't actually been for the (presumed) Horned Lark as of yet. I elected on going for the Ross' Gull last Saturday, woke up too late last Sunday to want to brave the traffic through London and then on its first appearance in November, I was in Portugal. So having picked Jamie and Dante up at Canada Water, we headed to Staines early morning. It was, fortunately, a nice bright day and on arrival the target bird showed really well: -

(presumed) Horned Lark Staines Reservoir, Surrey 4th February 2018
 The Horned Lark was feeding actively along the causeway, completely unperturbed by the small crowd. Though it spent most of the time on the south side, it did fly over to the north bank of the causeway where it showed really well with the light behind us. I did actually twitch over to Scilly in October 2001 for the individual there, which bar one on the Outer Hebrides, is I believe the only other British record of this North American (sub)species.

Anyway, having seen a really distant Scaup and a nice close Goldeneye, I quickly realised that the reservoirs of West London on a February morning were predictably bleak. And so we headed round to more familiar surroundings - Crayford recycling centre! And just like yesterday, we left Caspian Gull-less. Just two Yellow-legged Gulls, an adult and a first-winter, the best in a large number of gulls present.

The bright weather continued, and enticed us to Wanstead. Where it was Common Gull central as always, with probably 700 or so spread around the place - including two regular Norwegian ringed birds as well as an absolutely stonking 2nd calendar year bird that had hardly moulted anything (on close inspection three lower scapulars): -

juvenile Common Gull Wanstead, London 4th February 2018
adult Common Gull (JZ66) Wanstead, London 4th February 2018 - ringed as a first-winter at Hovindammen, Valle Hovin, Oslo,, Norway on 16th September 2015, and has been in Wanstead throughout this and the previous two winters

adult male Common Gull (J3EN) Wanstead, London 4th February 2018 - ringed at Tveitevannet, Bergen, Hordaland, Norway as a first-winter on 14th September 2013 and seen at Wanstead and Thames Barrier Park last winter 
There was also an adult Lesser Black-backed Gull at Wanstead that had been ringed in Gloucester on 22nd May 2010. Back in Rotherhithe, just as it was getting dark, I pulled into Greenland Dock by my flat and saw the Polish Black-headed Gull (T8VE) from yesterday again as well as a NTGG ringed one too, and two metal-ringed birds as well (one from Germany and another BTO ringed).

Five more days until half-term... bring on the gulls!

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