Monday 19 November 2012

1cy Caspian Gull

This first-winter Caspian Gull showed well on the River Thames foreshore late morning until flushed by loud youths on bikes. A further two birds - both adults - were seen on the tip in addition to 15 or so Yellow-legged Gulls.

Note that, in contrast to some messages that have been broadcast, the majority of gulls are NOT at or by the stone barges. I've encountered three independent lost birders on my last two visits to the site. The best place to see gulls is by walking east along the riverside footpath for 300m from Coldharbour Lane. Birds commute between the tip and the River Thames here, and good views can be had of birds either bathing on the river or on the foreshore itself.

Saturday 17 November 2012

Down in the dump

For the first time in a while, I managed to spend the morning at Rainham Tip. Despite a wet forecast, it actually turned out to be an OKish morning weather-wise and, despite the relatively low numbers present, the gulls also produced a few decent bits.

Arriving a little after 08:30, I had a Water Pipit flying around near the stone barges as I made my way along the riverside footpath to the tipping area. This was soon followed by the first Caspian Gull of the morning: a heavy-looking first-winter with really nice scapulars and coverts and a distinct dark smudge behind the eye, which really emphasised the white eyelids.

Over the next few hours, I was joined by a few others including David Bradnum. It wasn't the most dynamic of mornings on the tip with hundreds (rather than thousands) of large gulls, although we did have a further two Casps - a green-ringed second-winter (ring covered in sh*t and thus unreadable) that was a bit retarded on the upperparts and seemed to lack a mirror on p10, and a really smart adult picked up by Dave.

Another Rock/Water Pipit also flew over calling and there were plenty of the expected winter species along the Thames including about a dozen Yellow-legged Gulls (of all ages) throughout the morning. This Rook also showed well on the fence adjacent to where we were stood...

Sunday 11 November 2012

Hooded Merganser

A bird with a crazy profile. Famous last words perhaps, but this one 'feels' so much better than the adult female in Kent back in March. Even if it shows to 20m, it's no tamer than the Wigeon, Teal and Dark-bellied Brents that frequent the same channel. Nice to get out on a glorious day of weather - as at least one other has said, this could be one of the highlights of an often frustrating autumn...

Saturday 10 November 2012

Red-breasted Goose

Through bleary eyes and with a bit of a duff head, I rolled out of bed at 06:30 this morning and drove down to Pagham. On arrival there at around 08:45, Alan Lewis informed me that the Hooded Merganser hadn't been seen and he was heading off to Farlington to look for the Red-breasted Goose. With the drizzle continuing, I decided against wasting time stood on the North Wall and decided to follow suite and head west.

The weather had improved a tad on arrival at Farlington and, although overcast, it had stopped raining and was actually reasonably mild. Alan and I walked around to the east side of the reserve and soon located the Red-breasted Goose showing with around 150 Dark-bellied Brents in fields by the sea wall.

Unfortunately, I'd forgotten to put my camera in my bag on leaving London this morning, and thus it wasn't surprising to find the goose performing outrageously well. I did have my iPhone, though, and the shots below were taken via hand-held 'iPhoneScoping'. Not too bad really.

The only Red-breasted Geese I'd seen in Britain previously were a couple of adults that spent time in Lincolnshire then Norfolk six winters ago. I had some pretty good views of them up at Saltfleet, although nothing quite like this one. Among a trusting pack of Dark-bellied Brents, the bird came within 30m of us over the ninety minutes we watched it - close enough that optics weren't necessary to enjoy satisfactory views! Some of the Brents were showing to half that distance - crazy birds.

So, despite the 'disappointment' of the merganser disappearing, it actually turned out to be a pleasant few hours down on the south coast. Nice to see Alan and nice to be out of West London.

Sunday 4 November 2012

Juvenile Glaucous Gull

I've been pretty fortunate in that almost every time I've popped home to Lincs this year I've managed to find some decent birds on my old stomping grounds. On Saturday, the best thing I could manage on my old patch at Baston & Langtoft Pits was a vocal Water Pipit, with a Short-eared Owl seen at nearby Baston Fen late afternoon.

But the highlight of the day was a fine juvenile Glaucous Gull on the pool at Dogsthorpe Tip during the late morning. This is the earliest juvenile I've seen in the Peterborough area (previous 9th Dec 2007), although I did have a second-winter in late October last year. As you'd expect for the date, it was a particularly fresh-looking and well-marked individual. The relatively small size (not much bigger than a Herring Gull), cute face and demure bill perhaps suggest it was of the fairer sex.

Perhaps not totally unexpected given the recent northerly airflow, although a pleasing start to the winter gulling season nonetheless. Apparently still present this morning too, seen by Mike Weedon at around 10:30.