Another weirdly brilliant Sunday for London birds. Richard B , Dante S and I had decided to tackle Creekmouth first thing, I should mention that the previous day i’d had a Hawfinch fly NE and Calling, over the main path near the entrance/exit. (I’m starting to really like the place). I picked Dante up from a deserted ASDA carpark at 07.30, there were a few large gulls milling about and maybe one or two blackheaded, on our way out Dante says “isnt that a 1w Med Gull?!” Bizarre place for one but very welcome.
Med Gulls are seriously scarce round here and everyone loves a first winter. We then meet rich at Creekmouth and before long are watching a juv Iceland Gull on the river Roding where it meets the Thames, I firstly took this to be the bird i’d had a couple of weekends before. It showed well and even came to bread.
this presumption was however wrong and the bird i’d seen previously was picked up by Rich on the shingle bar near the outfall.
Turn over was pretty good and we had a great mix of Gulls with 2 2nd winter and a 3rd winter Caspian Gulls, at least 4 Yellow-Legged Gulls of differing ages (1w below)…
An adult Med as well as an intresting lookig Hybrid bird, Probably Glaucous x Great Black–Backed monster.
Poor shot of one of the 2nd winter Caspians above, nice bird though with large p10 mirrors. The distance of some of the gulls had been abit more than we lucky lot are used to so we crossed the thames and spent some time at Crayford. We strangley arrived at the same time as Andy Lawson and then Mick Southcott and half an hour later Rich pulls out this amazing adult Kumliens Gull!!!
It took a change of light and some fresh eyes (MS had gone and come back) to spot the faint grey in the primaries, which was really not apparent at first to any of us. What a bird and the only adult White winged gull ive seen this side of Cornwall or west Ireland!
Some grey tones in the primaries seen in the closed wing just about visible and below is the open wing shot, (stolen from Dante) unbelievable really!
My pre work visits to Walthamstow have kicked off properly now and motivation (for getting up early) has come in the form of the promise of migrants. The first of which was a lone Sand Martin on the Monday that flew south over David B and I. I had 2 the following day over the southern complex and another 2 the day after that one of which perched up nicely on the lockwood for me.
David B, Paul W and myself also had a Little Ringed Plover on the thursday in the rain (thus no shots) and there have been 2 Dunlin on the Lockwood over the week too. One on the Monday…
…and one on the Friday.
Friday also held my favourite my favourite mid march event, the first returning Wheatear.
The Little Bunting continues its stay and appears to be going through some moult about the head. Some of the chesnut tones are becoming apparent in the median Crown stripe and the pale cheek spot is begging to disappear.
The Peregrines are being pretty active at the moment.
I go to Hong Kong with work end of next week, I had a great time last year (see post) and will be targeting a few different habitats this time i think… Lets see how it pans out.
p.s Ive missed out on Bar Tailed Godwit and Wood Lark on Walthamstow today.
LP and I spent the morning by the fishing boats and scrabbled together a small group of gulls from none at all – The wonders of brown bread. First bird of interest was this 3rd winter Yellow-Legged Gull, they look fantastic when the bare parts get their adult summer brightness.
There has been 2 regular juv Glaucous Gulls about. We had distantly seen one sat amoung Great-Black Backed Gulls by the puddles but it had flushed before we got close. 25 mins later and it (or another) was in front of us on the beach.
I caught a whiff of Caspian gull in a distasnt 2nd winter bird so left LP and got closer to investigate, my suspisions were correct and the below bird stood on the beach for a moment before it flew onto the sea but was gone before too long and couldn’t be temtped back to the bread bath. Sorry you missed it Laurence …
We had a quick look on the reserve for a Sand martin of Little Ringed Plover during a rain shower – no luck but we did see one of the Glaucous Gulls in the roost by the track. Back to the fishing boats and we were joined by Mick S, Richard S, Richard B and Andy L. Almost instantly there was an adult Caspian Gull in front of us! It flew around a few times showing very bright almost yellowish legs, that white leading edge to the wing where it spills over onto the upper wing is delightful. I really enjoyed it.
I knicked the below pic from LP’s twitter, lovely intricate pattern in the outer primaries and those tounges were mainly hidden in active flight.
I’d seen a very small dark Lesser Black backed gull, long winged with an interesting head shape and expression, this was the closest i got to it but it looks like or similar to a bird Martin C had a week or so before. Its reminiscent of Baltic Gull…more likely Intermedius but not much one can do without a ring.
A different, darker Glaucous Gull was hanging around offshore and a near adult Med Gull was flying around too. The lighter Glauc is pictured below, it was so nice to see flying around at close range and also at distance, very short winged and barrell chested.
I’ll be out before work for the rest of the week so my next post will hopefully mention a Wheatear….
Now that there is just about ample light in the mornings and since the 1st of March the gates have been opening from 7am (to strictly permit holders ONLY i should add) I endeavoured my first pre-work walk around the patch of the year. I met David Bradshaw and we walked round the lockwood. The Knot was still there, as was a Redshank, 6 Lapwings, 3 Jackdaws and 2 Meadow Pipits all flew north and a Stonechat was in an unusual spot, surely some movement.
I had just enough time to have a look for the Little Bunting and check the low levels of the East Warwick and in doing so passed the large Linnet flock, a quick scan and I briefly had the partially obscured flanks, primaries and rump of what was surely the Serin! (found more than 3 weeks earlier and not seen since, forgive me i don’t know the name of the finder). 2 minutes later and it was perched out showing the face pattern, bill and overall vibes for David and I to see in one of the bare willows. It stayed distant but David saw it again after i left followed but no sign all day after that. Perhaps its an early morning thing but I will have another look tomorrow. Another new bird for the site, madness…
The London Wiki page says that the Little Bunting was seen again, as was the Scaup. Whats going on, all these birds on my patch, a patch which i’ve cursed (lots) and Loved (a few times) over the years. Bloody place
My weekends continue to deliver a mix of nice London finds and excellent birds twitched. Another excellent weekend with a mix of a couple of local surprises and a successful twitch in nice surroundings. A fruitless check of Crayford (despite high numbers of gulls) was followed by a walk up and down Creekmouth. The below Juv Iceland Gull flew down the Roding and out onto the exposed mud at low tide.
I’m not sure if ts the bird from Crayford and I’d like tho think with this current situation in the country that there are more than one or two Icelands in the area. The all too familiar large gull ‘raptor’ call alerted me to this 2cy Marsh Harrier . Missing a primary or two but seemed to be doing ok, Both birds were new for that area for me!
After a 5am rise on the Sunday, Rich B, a ridiculously dressed Dante and I headed down to see the adult Ross’ Gull on the south coast. A bird i’ve always wanted to see and after an unlucky miss of the bird on the mud at Ferrybridge we got good views of it at Radipole Lake. I think this species is the perfect small gull, all the features get me going, my pics don’t quite do it justice. A new gull species for me. Nice to catch up with a few people and meet some new! Condolences to old Filby who had his massive Swarro scope robbed, Urban birding…
After this we headed for the long staying Stilt Sandpiper currently at Stanpit (thanks Chris Ball for gen) and enjoyed scope views of it feeding across the inlet, flying about abit too, another new species and a wader i’ve wanted to see for some time. The below adult Mediterranean Gull was nice to take in too.
After that we were in the hide at Blashford Lakes for the gull roost where we saw the Ring Billed Gull, a nice 2nd w Caspian that rich pulled out and the bird that many are calling a Thayer’s Gull. With NO field experince of Thayers anywhere I’m not the person to make the call on it but it doesnt sit well with what I do know about the species and does resemble Herring Gulls that ive seen in the past. Not to disrespect the finder and thats all i can say really. No pics from this part of the day and to be honest i struggled with this way of viewing gulls as its miles (litterally) from how I like to study Gulls. Big thanks to Richard Bonser for driving and being sound whe it came to my Mcdonalds ordeal…
The London Bird Wiki page said that Sean Huggins had had a good day at Creekmouth with an Adult Caspian and a possible Siberian Chiffchaff as the highlights, so the following Day Dante and I headed down to try and mop up that lot and any extras. The, presumed same Siberian Chiffchaff was one of the first birds I got my bins on properly and showed well on our first encounter. It was amoung 25+ Collybita Chiffchaffs.
Looking different in all lighting conditions as per: monotone and brown in the bright light and nice and contrasty with all the right tones in the right paces in the flatter dull light. (rusty ear coverts, green in the retrices and remiges , nice grey neck sides etc) the left hand ear coverts starting to moult and some body moult perhaps too on the left flank, this would be a little early but a decent indicator of Tristis which delay their moult until early spring. I didnt definitely hear it call, but will probably see it again and who knows, a bit of sun might coax some song out of it)
Next stop was abit of a fence hopper near Gallions Reach and an unexpected pinging in the reeds was of course the below Male Bearded Tit. Great bird.
A last chance saloon check of the O2 and Thames Barrier park was made. Very few large gulls at all and as I scanned the birds towards the shore Dante casually says “Adult Ring-Billed Gull” and there it was 4 metres in front of us among the common and black headed gulls!
After 15 mins of it just sitting in front of us and some brief flying about it flew east never to be seen again. It has quite a unique primary pattern so perhaps will be picked up again. However from tweets and correspondance from people along the south coast there is a movement of Common Gulls eastwards currently so perhaps is caught up in that.
A very Scarce bird in the South East of England and glad for Dante for finding. A decent day for finds and another weekend with scarce birds involved in london, 2018 going nicely so far.
The Little Bunting continues to show in its usual spot, Ive been back a couple of mornings in an attempt to see/photograph it better. These were my best attempts on tuesday.
Rich, Dante and I went for the Staines Horned Lark this morning. I cant believe i didn’t consider going before, What a great bird and showing some really beautiful tones that you just don’t see on many birds in this part of the world. The rufous burgundy about the breast sides flanks and rump – beautiful.
Below looking different in warmer light. It flew about and called abit too.
It was then 2 Yellow legged Gulls at Crayford and not much else followed by some Common gulls at Wanstead. This untimely Juvenile plumaged bird was the highlight.