With a handful of lingering immatures mincing around throughout the spring and early summer, I guess it's fair to say that Yellow-legged Gulls have never actually left London. However, the annual mid-summer build-up of michahellis is now well underway and my first visit to the Thames for a couple of months revealed a handful of these entertaining birds. Curiously, none were juveniles - in fact most were 3cy.
Black-headed Gulls are also coming back in numbers - no Med yet though.
And, as always, it's worth keeping an eye out for rings. Here's a North Thames Gull Group bird that I'd not seen before.
Mike Weedon scored heavily with an adult Caspian Tern at Baston & Langtoft Pits, my old stomping ground during my teenage years. Though a regular vagrant to Britain, it's an undeniably impressive species and, with a clear afternoon on the cards, I couldn't resist twitching it.
By the time I arrived it had been missing for the best part of 45 minutes but, after a nervous wait, was picked up fishing over some of the more mature pits in the middle of the (private) complex. Views were initially distant but it then had the decency to perform a close fly-by as it headed back to its favoured roosting spot on the new wader scrape on the north side of the pits - this fantastic site has been producing great birds for a couple of years now, and finally it's had its first true rarity.
Incidentally the bird bears a red ring, identifying it as the individual seen previously in Carmarthenshire and Northamptonshire. The red ring seems to suggest it's Swedish, though I'm not sure if anyone has managed to read the ring fully yet. It'll be interesting to see where it pops up next, assuming it doesn't hang around at BLGP.
A few grab shots below - hurriedly taken using sub-optimal settings and against a grey sky, and not really in focus. But you can tell what it is!
Time is not really on my side at the moment due to various ongoing work commitments (the fruits of which should be available to see soon at birdguides.com), but here are a few record shots of the Grey-tailed Tattler that I was fortunate enough to come across in the famous quarry at Cabo da Praia, Terceira, Azores, while leading a tour there last Friday. Unfortunately we only had an hour in the strong mid-afternoon sunshine to watch this East Asian vagrant before our early-evening flight back to São Miguel. This represents the first for the Azores and Portugal as well as being just the fifth for the Western Palearctic.
As and when time allows I hope to feed back a bit more on recent trips to Taiwan and Colombia, as well as the Azores tour.