Tristis Chiff Chaff and Gulls from both patches

I found a Siberian Chiff Chaff at Walthamstow last week whilst out with the other local lads. It wasn’t until a few days later that I heard it call which it did so 5 or 6 times and strangely only during brief rain showers. Ive seen it again most mornings and noticed its also undergoing body moult, a good feature for Tristis at this time of year. More (and better) pics to follow hopefully. Paul and I also had a first winter Caspian Gull on the Coppermill filterbeds that day.


With the arrival of March and early opening times at Walthamstow Ive been walking around the Lockwood before work hoping to see an early Wheatear or Sand martin but also there are good numbers of Gulls loafing on the NW bank. This 2nd winter Caspian Gull bombed past me, looked good in brief fly by but it wasn’t till I got home and processed the images that I noticed the small mirror on p10 confirming the ID.



Other birds of note this week have been a Rook calling and circling the Lockwood before drifting NW and a Skylark over N this morning too. There are Green Sandpipers around in the Channel, a few Goldeneyes displaying, 3/4 singing Cetti’s Warblers and a flock meadow c15 pipts loitering on the Lockwood banks. Long tailed tits seem to be concentrating on nest building but this one posed nicely for me


Possibly my final weekend of Thames gulling as I’m away on the weekends now till April. Irish birder Niall Keogh was visiting London and keen for some Caspian and Yellow legged gulls so joined a mob of gullers; myself, Rich Bonser, Dante, Dave Johnson and Martin Hallam. Yellow Legs were the highlight of the day for me.






This giant 1st winter Casp hung around the bread at the Thames barrier, Lovely legs and wings but feather wear let it down abit, but its march and to be expected.


Birthday Casp

On the First of March I turned 31. I took the day off work and my girlfriend Amy and I spent the afternoon by the fishing boats and puddles at Dungeness. Romance.








Despite the high numbers of gulls around the only Casp I saw was the above, Known as ‘the regular’ , also present was an adult Yellow Leg an enormous adult Argentatus and a Juv Iceland stayed distant on the sea by the boats.


Frequent readers may have previously noticed that I have a ‘thing’ for 2nd winter Herring Gulls. Its abit difficult to articulate why, I think Its mainly about personal aesthetics but sometimes they just happen to look beautiful.


Thanks to Amy for some gracious and noble bread throwing.

Another German Ringed Caspian Gull – X309, Dungeness


Rich and I gave the Thames a go first thing and had pretty much Zilch so burnt rubber to Dunge and found this ringed first winter Caspian Gull.





It was ringed last June at Grabendorfer See , Germany near the Polish Border, the same day and same colony as two other Casps I have seen this winter at Thames Barrier Park.(x307) and (x090) . We were joined by Mick Southcott who confirmed it was a new bird.






The Same 2nd Winter Yellow Leg that Laurence ad I saw last Saturday was lurking about. (also pictured with the casp above)


This Adult Kittiwake also came in to check out Mick’s fish bucket.


Another Dunge and East Sussex Weekend

A weekend Trip down to see friend Laurence P began with a full day at Dungeness. Things were fairly slow to begin with but we did see the 2 Juv Iceland Gulls and a couple of first winter Caspian gulls by the patch. The tide was out and there were very few gulls by the puddles and fishing boats so we took in a/the Long eared Owl and Ring necked duck (for the 2nd or 3rd time recently) on the reserve.  This and a hearty veggie breakfast at the cafe killed some time before returning to look at the Gulls. The below 2nd winter Yellow-Legged Gull was nice, I like them this late in the season, beginning to brighten up in the bill and iris also.



I basically wasted pretty much all the bread trying to keep a group of gulls close with nothing of interest, however as the last fishing boat came in (followed by loads of gulls and thick fog!) This absolutely bonkers 1st winter Caspian flew infront of us.



Originally found5 days before by Paul Watts and ringed in Poland last may.





As the fog thickened this dark 1st winter Casp also flew about abit but never posed in the same fashion, apparently seen by Mick Southcott and Richard Smith on jan 28th.





A nice adult Kittiwake flew by close in



This dark eyed ad Yellow Legged Gull was present too but flew off before any closer inspection.


The Next day was spent birding a few sites closer to Eastbourne. Prince’s park held a Black head ringed in Denmark that we’d seen there back in July whilst photographing some of the first Juv Yellow legs in the country and a NTGG 1st winter herring. Holywell held zero gulls, but this rock pipit posed with 90’s blurring Gerhard Richter painting as backdrop!


Then on to Cuckmere Haven. Which holds one or two large and often distant gull day roosts, great scope views and a nice way to see many birds from one spot, we had 4 Med gulls of all all 3 ages, 5 First winter and a one third winter Caspian gulls.  Photos were pretty shocking from this distance here’s 4 of the 6. The third winter was the bird of the trip for me


An O2 Casp again…

I will admit its not my favourite Casp on the Thames this winter, and at time can look like a real oddball, but it did behave brilliantly and was showing off the albatross pose, doing a great sounding long call and flying around nicely in different light so I couldn’t resist another post.











Below with a 2nd winter Yellow Legged Gull


A rock pipit! – the first I’ve seen here, would really expect to see them towards the end of the month but must have been some movement, a meadow pipit was also present down river.


I bumped into Martin Hallam who had seen another 1st winter Caspian Gull with a ring on it just before I arrived. This bird later turned up in front of Rich and Dante who were enjoying a handful of casps at Thames Barrier park more info here .

Nice to meet you Martin, see you again.

Thames Casps old and new… for me

Thames barrier park for 2 hours before Low tide and Dantes spangling 3rd Winter Casp was the first bird I put my bins on. It was Keen on the bread but not willing to get into good light I enjoyed watching it through bins as you dont see many 3rd winters.


Below, an awful flight shot but shows p4 mark and broad band on p5 well enough.


This apparent 1w Argentatus came to the bread briefly



Gull numbers were pretty low and there were just a few black heads at Lyle park. I was hoping to catch up with my beloved Lyle but sadly it was not to be. Over to the O2 and within a few mins I had a first winter Casp that i didn’t recognise. I watched it in flight mostly as when it pitched down it did so quite distantly.





It does seem to have a similar feel to the two rung birds Dante and I have seen on the thames, both rung in east Germany in mixed colonies and I wouldn’t be surprised if this bird was from a similar place, in fact it is rung but only with a metal ring which i couldn’t read. This just in! Apparently tis bird was actually seen back in December at Thames Barrier Park – funny how they come and go.




Below, good old ‘mucky’ one of the O2’s regular 1st Winter Caspian gulls was lurkin about too.


Below, both casps together.


I’d heard that Lyle had been seen at East India dock so tried my luck there but only had the weirdo Black head that we see occasionally.



And this subtle 2nd winter Herring which in flight I took to be a first winter Argie with that tail pattern, It wasn’t until it landed on the water I could see all scaps and coverts were replaced but scaps lacking many adult grey types.  I love 2nd winter herrings.


Pitsea, Beckton and Patch Glauc.

The legendary Pitsea tip was the first site of the Day and only my second visit to this Gull Mecca. I must be a bad luck charm at Pitsea as both of my trips there have been Caspless.Gull numbers are lower these days apparently as much food waste is burnt elsewhere rather than sent to landfill. There were more birds on the previous visit and Rich pulled a juv Glauc out of the bag as well as a nice northern Argie, however this time numbers were really low and got distracted by a starling.


I did however get to meet ‘Big White’ a Leucisitc 4th winter Great Black Backed Gull, rung as a chick in south west Norway in 2012 and a local celeb.



Although so far I’ve missed out on good days at Pitsea, Its still a great place to look at gulls and a real privilege to get up there, so Thanks to Rich Bonser and Steve Arlow for having me along.

Next up, Beckton Sewerage works where I had come across a Siberian Chiff-chaff a couple of weeks back, the light was good and I wanted to get better photos. We located a/the bird and I was surprised at how different it looked. All the features were present but much more subtle , I put it down to the light and enjoyed good views. (through the chain link fence again!)



As we were leaving I spotted a ‘trisitis’ type chiff a way up the path from where we were photographing just before that looked more like the original bird from the other week with more obviously rusty ear coverts. admittedly it could be the same bird in different light, sibe chiffs are notorious for looking different depending on light conditions, but I wouldn’t be surprised if there are two individuals down there. The hunt to get better pics or put some proof into my thinking however was cut short as news came on of a Glauc on the coppermill lane Filterbeds, (Thats on my Walthamstow Patch!) Rich was up for it so we sped in that direction.

News from Lol Bodini, the finder, that the bird had flown south was disapointing but I thought checking Leyton Tip would be worth it, and it was! Rich and I were able to get into the tip which wasnt working , allowing us to get great views.



Northern Gulls – with adult GBBG and  Argentatus Herring.




Later we went to have a look at the Swallow at the copper mill lane Filters, Bizarre to see it flying around in Jan, the Black Redstart was present also.Great day, good sites and patch tick. God bless London Birding!