Sunday 18 February 2018

A weekend in Kuwait

I will try to produce a more lengthy photo-blog from my January trip to Kuwait with Sam Viles in due course, but in the meantime here is an article I wrote on the few days for the BirdGuides website:

Grey Hypocolius, Sulaibhikat, 13 January 2018

Sunday 11 February 2018

A quiet weekend

All in all, a fairly low-key weekend. On Friday I joined Peter Alfrey at Beddington for a couple of hours. We enjoyed the (very white) juvenile Glaucous, the regular juvenile Iceland and a chunky first-winter Caspian among the large numbers of gulls using the (for now) still-active landfill site. I also glimpsed a Mediterranean Gull, which I think gripped Pete off a bit as they've gone very scarce here in winter.

Glaucous Gull flies in front of the Beddington 'Death Star' - much more on this obscenity at Pete's blog.

On Sunday I popped over to see the Horned Lark at Staines, but it was favouring the south side of the causeway and, on a bright morning, was therefore into the sun all the time. The drake Greater Scaup was on show at the north-west end of the South Basin. Then, in the afternoon, I headed over to the WWT, which was pretty quiet - a 2cy Yellow-legged Gull was as good as it got.

The only thing I photographed at Staines on Sunday - A380 aircraft always look impressive in the air!

Saturday 10 February 2018

My best ever ringing recovery!

While at Choshi Port, Japan, in late January I happened across a ringed, but somewhat unhealthy looking, adult Vega Gull. My assumption was that this might have been ringed locally but, when it transpired that it didn't belong to a Japanese scheme, my ears were pricked.

I've just had word back from the Bird Ringing Centre in Moscow that this is a Russian bird. It was ringed in the Chaunskiy district of Chukotka, Russia, on 22 July 2017 and my sighting at Choshi is the first since then. More impressively, Choshi is 4,107 km from where this bird was ringed - quite incredible, and easily my 'furthest' recovery. In London, where we deal mainly in Herring Gull rings, I usually see London-ringed birds, that have just about flown across the breadth of the capital, or, more exotically, birds from Suffolk or Yorkshire. Occasionally there's a more interesting Common, Lesser Black-backed or Great Black-backed from elsewhere in Europe.

To get such a recovery on this Vega perhaps isn't too surprising given where they breed, but I was nevertheless flabbergasted when I opened the email first realised just how far away from Choshi this bird had been ringed!

How far the Vega Gull has travelled - so far that you can see the corners of the earth in this Google Earth screenshot!

Adult Vega Gull 'G4Y' - looking rather worse for wear. Perhaps not much left in the tank for this bird.

Sunday 4 February 2018

Blackwit saves the weekend

It's been a particularly quiet weekend around my local spots, with precious little among the gulls. Aside the usual Bittern and Jack Snipe combination (which are always nice), the highlight of the weekend was a smart Black-tailed Godwit on the wader scrape at WWT London on Sunday afternoon.

Black-tailed Godwit, WWT London, 4 February 2018.

Herring Gull Y:G41 originates from Rufforth Tip, North Yorkshire, where it was ringed on 30 June 2017. Since then it's been seen intermittently along the Thames in west London, popping up again this weekend.