Saturday 24 December 2016

Pre-Christmas Iceland Gull

Best bird of a couple of days' searching around Peterborough was this juvenile Iceland Gull at Dogsthorpe Tip on 23rd. I was genuinely surprised to see it drop in to the pit given how scarce both white-winged gulls have been up to this point. Despite good numbers of gulls, nothing else of note seen - not even any Casps.

Monday 12 December 2016

Ringed Black-headed Gulls on the Thames

Here are a few ringed Black-headed Gulls that I had on the Thames last week ...

1) Adult yellow ' 2PJB', Barnes, 5 December. Ringed at Pitsea, Essex, in March 2016. More details here.

2) Adult white 'EE5T', Fulham, 5 December 2016. Ringed as an adult at Griend, Netherlands, on 6 June 2016. First recorded in the UK at Hyde Park, London, on 19 October before my sighting in Fulham.

3) Adult metal 'HV11.766' ringed as pullus at lake (55.1192, 23.7542) north of Kaunas, Lithuania, on 18 June 2011. Not recorded subsequently until in Chiswick on 2 December 2016!

Saturday 3 December 2016

Masked Wagtail

Britain's first Masked Wagtail (Moticilla alba personata) was identified in the small Pembrokeshire village of Camrose earlier in the week. While not (yet) a split, this particular individual was a real looker and it seemed rude to pass on the opportunity of joining Richard Bonser and team and heading west this morning.

The bird performed well on and off from around 08:20, often to within just a few metres as it fed on the road and along driveways. It seems very settled here, familiar with its surroundings and it would be surprising if it doesn't spend the winter here. It's a fantastic bird too, and well worth a look - tick or not.

Thanks to Rich for driving.

Masked Wagtail, Camrose, Pembrokeshire, 3 December 2016

Friday 2 December 2016

Iceland Gull in Hammersmith!

I went for my first bike ride along the Thames for a couple of weeks this morning in the hope of finding a Caspian Gull. I had a Lithuanian Black-headed Gull at one of my usual spots in Chiswick (I'll blog about this bird at a later date) but only about 30 large gulls, so decided to continue east past Hammersmith Bridge and down towards Fulham.

This turned out to be a good move as I stumbled across a juvenile Iceland Gull among about 80 large gulls on the river adjacent to the Wetland Centre. This was actually the first time I'd biked down here this winter and it was nice to find a new spot for loafing gulls at low tide - Chiswick has generally been poor for numbers of large gulls in the past month.

Initial views of the Iceland Gull, Fulham, 2 December 2016

Eventually the bird showed pretty well, although steadfastly refused to show any interest in the four loaves of bread I threw at it. As such the scope for flight shots was minimal (I only grabbed a few as it flew past me towards Hammersmith) and I had to make do with perched shots at an awful angle and against a typically grubby Thames background.

After about half an hour the bird decided to fly off west upriver, over Hammersmith Bridge (thus in to my regular 'patch'!) before turning north and disappearing off over the West London skyline. It turns out that this is the same bird seen by Pete Alfrey at Beddington on 24 November and then by Dave Harris in the Island Barn Reservoir roost on 28th - not that that's surprising, given that there are so few Iceland Gulls in the country at present.

A white-winged gull with Hammersmith Bridge in the background - the stuff of dreams