Friday 30 September 2016

September ends with a couple of Caspian Gulls

There are still good numbers of gulls visiting Dogsthorpe Tip, on the outskirts of Peterborough, at the moment, and the pit within the tip complex offers pretty good views of bathing and loafing birds. I called in briefly today and had two Caspian Gulls, an adult and a first-winter. Fortunately the adult was one of the closest birds! Also present today was a single first-winter Yellow-legged Gull among around 1,000 large gulls.

Saturday 17 September 2016

First tip visit of the season

A Saturday morning spent at Pitsea produced a fairly meagre scattering of gulls - a little disappointing after Rich Bonser had visited over the two previous Saturdays and enjoyed excellent numbers, including several Caspian Gulls. Highlights were limited to a tame fox, the returning leucistic Great Black-backed Gull (and, incidentally, its normal-looking sibling for its first time at this site) and 10+ Yellow-legged Gulls. With tipping activity at a minimum, we'd called it a day by late morning.

A couple of adult Yellow-legged Gulls among the detritus - quite amusing how well camouflaged they can be

Yellow-legged Gulls of various ages

'Big White' the Norwegian Great Black-backed Gull - back again!

A surprisingly smart Red Fox - you tend to see really mangled individuals here

Wednesday 14 September 2016

Fantastic Frampton

Back on 22 August - the morning after Birdfair - I popped over to Frampton Marsh to meet up with warden Toby Collett to take a look round and see what the RSPB does to manage this brilliant reserve. I've written an article on my visit, which can be read on the BirdGuides website.

It so happened that my visit coincided with a massive arrival of Curlew Sandpipers - they were literally everywhere, flocks were coming and going and their calls echoed around the reserve. We counted over 200 by the end of the morning, all but a few being fresh juveniles.

As well as this there were a minimum of 10 Little Stints, several Spotted Redshanks, hundreds of Black-tailed Godwits and Knot plus four-figure numbers of Dunlin. It was among the latter that I found the undoubted highlight of the morning ... a leucistic bird! I've never seen leucism in any shorebird before and although it's documented in many species, I can't recall ever seeing photos of a Dunlin quite so white. Amazing looking thing, particularly in flight when the closest thing it resembled was a miniature Fairy Tern or Snow Petrel!

Frampton is absolutely stuffed with birds. It must be a brilliant local patch, although I'm amazed Toby and the team get any work done here with so many distractions constantly on show! I wish I could visit more often - it certainly felt a bit of a non-event when I was checking the gulls on the Thames in Chiswick later that day!

Waders and wildfowl cover the scrapes at Frampton Marsh