Monday 1 August 2016

Of Owls and Gulls

A flying visit back home at Spring Bank Holiday weekend and despite seeing a Little Owl near South Anston, Worksop on the way home followed by a Tawny Owl flying across the road at Greno Woods, Sheffield and then a silky smooth Barn Owl in flight over the weekend at Blacktoft Sands RSPB, East Yorkshire, it was not to be The Owls weekend. Consolation came in the form of a singing Savi's Warbler from deep within the reedbeds at Blacktoft and the returning female Montagu's Harrier that cut a lonesome figure perched in a reedbed bush. A trip to Spurn proved quiet for migrants apart from the male Red-backed Shrike that showed well in the Kilnsea Triangle. Note to Yorkshire Wildlife Trust - Please respect this migrant rest point. The new Spurn Bird Observatory was looking good, hope to take it in at this year's Spurn Migration Festival.

June quiet, no chance! See the blog postings for Little Bittern and Great Knot.

At Rainham RSPB, London, July brought with it the typical appearance of Yellow-legged Gulls on the Thames shore. Connected with a dozen on several visits, 2nd summers and older. Birds were resting across the river on the mud opposite the RSPB centre - not confident in id'ing younger birds at such distance in mostly hazy conditions. A couple of Mediterranean Gulls were seen on consecutive weekends (2nd summer and adult summer). Marsh Harriers performed well throughout and first real movement of waders included a nice flock of 21 Black-tailed Godwits on the 23rd. Butterfly spotting took over with a wide variety of species across the reserve including at least 100 Gatekeepers along the river wall between the RSPB centre and Aveley Bay car park on the 23rd. Dragonflies scarce, Black-tailed Skimmers present earlier in the season were replaced by Ruddy Darters and the first Emperor Dragonfly of the summer.

Another flying visit back home and birded the moorland edge with my dad at the end of July. Buzzards and Kestrels dominated with a cream crown Marsh Harrier (1st summer male?) and a Hobby at Midhope on 31st. A Little Egret at nearby Ingbirchworth Res. would have made dispatches as would a local Little Owl, but the cracking juv. Caspian-type Gull found there by Mick C on 29th stole the headlines. Arrived at Ingbirchworth Res. just after 09:00 on Sunday 31st and my dad picked up a distinctive flat-headed juv. gull with, but slightly adrift from, 4 immature LBB Gulls about 50 yards off the Dam wall. I 'scoped it and it soon took off, managed to switch to camera to get the flight shots below. It looked like the bird Mick C found, noticed it's yellow bling. Phoned Mick C who was nearby and we soon located it down the road in a ploughed field. The twitch was on, spending the next hour looking at this stunner, which was bearing yellow ring X215 on its left leg. First time I've seen this Caspian Gull plumage and in my limited experience of this species, it looks good to me for Caspian Gull.