1 – 15 August

 

A few times a month my strange (non birdy) job takes me to rural Norfolk, near ten mile bank which is over the Ouse from Welney WWT.  Over the years I’ve found a few nice birds there, highlights being a flock of six Common Cranes one winter, an out of place Hawfinch over one spring and things like Brambling, the occasional Hen Harrier and fields full of Yellow wags on passage.

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With abit of fieldcraft and abit of luck I got close to this (first year?)  Kingfisher at the bottom of a standard fenland ditch on my lunch break recently. I spent probably 15 mins getting close and 10 mins shooting and watching through bins as the bird changed position, perch and stretched its wings.

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This photoshoot came at an interesting time, especially shooting pictures of a Kingfisher – quintessential ‘Nature Photographer’ species. I had just read the recent British Birds article about birder-photographers.  (and spent some of the earlier part of the year cursing ‘no bins’ camera heads in hides in Hong Kong)  I often think about how using a camera as part of my birding affects it, I think its generally a good thing; It can be sort of used as a scope, It can allow me to appreciate commoner species more… it prolongs the experince and makes the birding more visual. Getting into position for photography and taking in a close up wader for example is indulgent in a great way (if the bird doenst mind) and akin to looking at an amazing living illustration in a bird guide… More on this another time.

Fast track to today in London, a visit to the patch before work and a fairly disappointing session although almost all the commoner warblers present.

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Willow Warblers, Common and Lesser White throats , below.

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The below male Kestrel is half of the local pair and may be the reason why the cow field has not yet yielded its annual Whinchats so far.

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After work a quick circuit of the Lockwood turned up 2 Greenshank, an adult and a juv (pictured below) a Juvenile Little ringed Plover, c10 Common sandpipers and my first Wheatear of the autumn. Showing 7/8 primaries in the closed wing and buff panel mid wing sort of points to Greenland but perhaps too early?. dunno.

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Strangely, this Kingfisher allowed me to get fairly close this evening. There are 3/4 birds hanging around, the others I suspect are first year birds. This and last weeks shots are the closest I’ve been to this species for a prolonged period, funny its happened within a week. Nice though.

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Lockwood to be Drained? :)

There are plans to drain the Lockwood Reservoir. This is a dream come true for all of the regular patch watchers at Walthamstow…however there is currently no access during working hours due to a gravel track being laid around the top edge.  Draining hasn’t begun yet but fingers crossed it will soon and they will get the track out the way. I think it WILL get some decent waders. A brief visit last night with water levels higher than I’ve ever seen I had a Redshank, c18 Common Sands and a tame adult Dunlin, with David B adding Turnstone and Greenshank to that the previous evening – Not bad for Walthamstow. Hopefully much more to come before work on the Lockwood is refilled in December.

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YLG season…

 

Just an Update of some recent juvenile Yellow Legged Gull images from Thames Barrier Park and the O2. I’m not really seeing the numbers I was expecting just yet but theres still time.

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The below individual has been around since the 8/9th of July, a real beauty to my slightly gull hungry eyes.

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Below a contrastingly dark individual.

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Next up… either some more YLGs or hopefully a nice juvenile Caspian Gull. I’m putting in the hours before and after work so fingers crossed.

26 June – 9 July

 

Its that time of the year again. A full week at the end of June desperately trying to find an early continental juvenile Yellow Legged Gull on the Thames and on the south Coast. An early flock of 16 birds were around the patch at Dunge on the 27th of June – Surely a concentrated rather than wide influx. A couple of days later and Rich Bonser had a nice Juv at Thames Barrier park and a trickle of these fresh beauties ensued in London since.  Its taken me up till today to see one and I actually ended up seeing about 4/5. Below is a flash flood of images from today where Rich, Dante and I had 13 YLGs of different ages, with the juveniles as the stars of course…. first though an O2 tick for me – adult Mediterranean Gull flew in to join the Black Heads at the O2 on the 29th.  Enjoy the rest.

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There were also a selection of first and second summers throughout the day, aswell as a near adult.

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Get used to it as this is going to be pretty much all your getting this month!

South End Mediterranean Gulls

 

Today the ‘East London Gulls’ Lads and I took a trip to Southend and Gunners park in the hope of seeing an early Juvenile Mediterranean Gull. Perhaps abit early Although apparently some of the Minsmere Juvs are flying about now. We made do with around 15 individuals coming to bread and allowing some flight shots. I love all ages of these Gulls but a fully hooded second summer really gets my juices flowing…

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Basel, Switzerland

 

 

Two weeks away with work in the small land locked city of Basel in Switzerland. Not that the job allowed me much free time but the time I had was spent in the nearby park and local Nature Reserve.

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Like many other cities on the continent the streets are full of Singing Black Redstarts and the parks are packed with other birds that over here we associate with specific rural habitats; Common Redstarts, Spotted Flycatchers, Fire Crests, and even Hawfinch were present and seemed to be breeding, (see juvs recorded and photographed below)  in a small urban park, as well as White StorksBlack Kites and Alpine Swifts flying Low over the Town.

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25 mins from my Apartment by Bus was Le Petite Camargue de la Alsacienne. A reserve roughly the size of Walthamstow Reservoirs, highlights at this site included, Squacco Heron (unusual for the area) Purple Heron, Great Egrets, Western Bonelli’s Warblers , more Hawfinches, Wrynecks, Lesser Spotted Wood peckers... (Black, Middle and Grey Headed can be seen here but I had no luck with them)

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Nightingales, Marsh Warblers and Golden Orioles were the main birds still in song…

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Red-Back Shrikes were well represented and a few Pairs were present in front of one of the hides.

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A really great city and also home to many more common migrant birds. I also encountered Wild Boar piglets, many Red Squirrel and a friend told me of a Pine Marten crossing a suburban street!  No doubt I will return next year for work so will aim for the Woodpeckers again and try to get some good Alpine Swift Photos. Such great birds to watch whilst sinking some large euro beers with your feet in the Rhine!

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June Iceland!

No sooner had a drafted I dull summer time blog post, a final day out on the Thames (before 2 weeks away with work) and I pick up a 1st summer Iceland Gull at Thames Barrier park!  Just over a year since the last one in the area that Rich B found on the beach at the O2 April 2016.  The bird flew westward and we lost it, despite our ziggzagging across the Thames in a attempt to refind it in the usual gathering spots.

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There were 4 different 2nd summer Yellow Legged Gulls between the Cable car and the beach at the O2, heres 2 of them.

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AND HERE’S THE DRAFTED EARLY JUNE POST….zzz

So June is here and things are, as expected, pretty quiet across the patches.  Rich had a nice new 2cy Caspian Gull at the O2 the other day and there are still some Yellow legged Gulls around on the river. Walthamstow is proving good for taking pics of juvenile wagtails and starlings and thats about it. The Common terns are paired up on a couple of the rafts, good numbers of Little Egrets seemed to be breeding and I’ve seen Swallows around recently which are probably the riding stables pair, fingers crossed.

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The next post you read will probably be about Juvenile Yellow Legged Gulls. I will be out looking in the last week of June and first of July Looking for the country’s first continental birds. Here’s a post from Eastbourne last July to help get your eye in.

For now however, here’s one of a local and familiar Thames YLGs, been around since last October and is a real looker in my opinion. regulars to this blog (if such a thing exists) will probably recognise the bird. (why not comment if you do… or be damned if you dont!)

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