Monday 13 February 2017

A familiar Yellow-legged Gull and hints of spring

It felt almost springlike out of the wind today, and fittingly I saw my first butterfly of the year - a Red Admiral hurriedly commuting between riverside gardens adjacent to Chiswick Eyot. Poor thing must've been chilly.

With cloudless skies and temperatures having recovered somewhat from the weekend, it felt like a decent day to be looking skyward and so it proved. A Common Buzzard headed south over London Wetland Centre at height at 11:49 and a little later, a Red Kite drifted low west over the Thames and then the Harrods Furniture Depository at 12:06. Both new species for the year, the latter the first I've seen here.

Common Buzzard high over the wetland centre ...

... and a somewhat lower Red Kite

Personal highlight of the morning was a striking 2cy Yellow-legged Gull. This bird, with its extremely distinctive aberrant bill pattern, was first seen by Rich Bonser by the O2 Arena on 17 August 2016 and then intermittently either there or at nearby Thames Barrier Park until 23 December (and again on 11 February per Dante Shepherd). See Rich's photos here. This is, to the best of my knowledge, the first time it's been seen away from East London.

I finished the day at Chiswick Pier, feeding a legion of Black-headed Gulls. They recognise me and my bike now - as soon as they see me pull up they come in and wait for me to get the bread out my bag. It's nice to see a lot of them are now acquiring their hoods. Another encouraging sign that the long, happy days of spring and summer aren't far away.

In addition to the gulls, this Egyptian Goose was grateful for my offerings.

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