Monday, 16 January 2012

Local birding 16/1

I had a great day out locally today. Spent a couple of hours mid-morning around BLGP - alot of the smaller pits were at least partially frozen. There were lots of Shoveler (c.30) present, and a Pink-footed Goose was with around 250 Greylags at Grummit's Scrape then on The Ocean:

There seemed to be a fair few ducks around, so I headed round to Tallington GPs to see what was there. It was immediately apparent from the bank on the north side that there were a lot of ducks. Indeed, across the complex I had an impressive minimum of 280 Tufted Ducks, but no hoped for rare aythya. I could hardly complain though, as a drake Smew floated in to view - my first of the winter.

Also around the pits were c.50 Pochard and c.30 Goldeneye, as well as a significant concentration of 17 Little Grebes on one of the smaller pits. Langtoft West End was almost completely frozen, so it was perhaps no surprise that I couldn't find the Tundra Bean Geese here (or much else for that matter).

Heading back home for an early lunch, I toyed with the idea of a visit to Dogsthorpe Tip. However, with the tips seemingly closing for good and reduced gull numbers over the past month or so, I was nearly put off the idea. As it was such a lovely day, I decided to head over anyway and, if there wasn't much doing, I planned to tackle the Nene Washes. My fears were unfounded though: around 700 large gulls were on the tip and adjacent pit. It didn't take long for a beautiful, pale biscuit-coloured Iceland Gull to appear:

Result! The bird disappeared around 20 minutes later but was replaced by this subtle 2nd-winter Caspian Gull. Although not the cleanest looking individual with relatively limited moult apparent on the upperparts and a relatively pale iris, I guess this is probably a pure bird rather than a hybrid. Facially it looks really snouty, it has a long and thin bill with next to no gonydeal angle, has that characteristic 'hanging belly' appearance as well as long (but not extremely long) pale legs. Uppertail and UTCs are pretty clean also and, perhaps most critically, it did show a small pale mirror on p10 (not apparent in photos).

Local birder John Saunders arrived, and I was able to instantly put him on the Casp. With John eyeing Iceland Gull for his local year list, we decided to head round to the fields south of the tip. Sure enough, the Ice was located at the front of the flock and, with some careful stalking in my car, we were able to obtain fantastic views.

With work beckoning, I headed home via Deeping High Bank. A couple of vocal adult Bewick's Swans were on the River Welland north of Crowland water tower, and 8 Goosanders (5 drakes) were also in the same area.

Continuing north, I was thrilled to find a redhead Smew by the S-bend in the river. This is the first I've seen at this site; I guess it must be the bird from nearby Deeping Lakes at the weekend.

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