Tuesday 28 February 2023

2023 - February Birding - still about the Gulls

Caspian Gull - as well as the fun in identifying individuals, more fun can be had when one wears a colour-ring. The photos below are of 2nd calendar year with yellow colour-ring P:YA9 present on the Thames shore near Rainham Marshes RSPB, London on Saturday 11 February 2023. The origins of a ringed bird can point to its identity in terms of potential hybridisation when mixed species colonies are found.

From local feedback received, and from a look on the internet, all pointed to it being ringed in Poland. With thanks for the help in tracing its origins and also for a quick turnaround from submitting the colour-ring details to receiving its life history. It was ringed in a Caspian Gull Colony (Pullus) at Jeziórko, Grębów, Poland in June 2022. Between ringing and the sighting reported above it was seen in Belgium (Ostend, November 2022), and then in the UK (Cambridgeshire, December 2022 and at Abberton Reservoir, Essex in January 2023).

As well as this Caspian Gull sporting a yellow colour-ring, it was distinctive as the left-hand side of the face appeared to be stained or showing an injury. This can be seen in some of the above photos and also in the video footage taken - please click here.

At low tide the Thames shore can hold many gulls in terms of numbers and variety as they move between the river and the landfill. This visit saw the numbers dominated by Black-headed Gulls leading to several colour-ringed adults being picked out. Locally ringed (Pitsea, Essex) birds with their yellow rings included 2HA2, 2TLB and 2SRT, and life histories reveal over the years they winter on or around this area and further east along the Thames Estuary. White EA2A has origins in the Netherlands. With thanks to all for feeding back on their life histories.

A sleeping adult Mediterranean Gull tried to hide amongst the Black-headed Gulls but its black head, as opposed to the chocolate-brown of the misnamed Black-headed Gulls, gave it away. 

Not all about the gulls, this scalloped marked winter Ruff gave good views probing the muddy shore.

More average photos uploaded at 'Latest UK Bird Photos'. Please enjoy.

Sunday 12 February 2023

2023 - January Birding

The new year opened on a similar theme to the end of the old, Caspian Gulls, but down in London. The superb returning adult Caspian Gull that winters at Eagle Pond, Snaresbrook eventually flew in mid morning on a cold Sunday (15th). It showed well dominating other gulls which comprised mainly of Black-headed Gulls and Common Gulls. A very smart gull.

The following Saturday a 1st Winter Caspian Gull joined other gulls resting on the Thames shore below the landfill near Rainham Marshes RSPB and allowed brief views.

Nearby Rainham Marshes RSPB held Marsh Harriers, a selection of wintering Ducks and Avocets. A small group of overwintering Black-tailed Godwits (20) along the Thames shore held the colour-ringed bird on the 21st. It was present in the same area back in October 2022. With thanks to all for feedback on its life history - it was ringed in October 2020 on The Swale, Kent and has been seen wintering around The Thames Estuary and noted at The Wash as well as in Iceland.

Later in the month twitched the drake Lesser Scaup at Staines Reservoir near Heathrow Airport. Whilst it was distant in the south-west corner of the South Basin, the light and general conditions were good for viewing and it was quite active for the first hour or so. Then it and its Pochard friends all went to sleep, as if a switch had been thrown. The 'record' photos are not great.

Up to 6 Black-necked Grebes were on show at Staines Reservoir, singles on both the North and South Basin, with a group of 4 on the North Basin that eventually came close to the causeway. A nice variety of ducks including Goldeneye plus 2 or 3 Red Kites in the area added to the mix.

The month ended with a visit to Erith Pier on the Thames (more or less opposite Rainham Marshes) on a Sunday afternoon rising tide, disappointing for large gulls but an adult Mediterranean Gull gaining its summer hood was nice to see.

Also, it has been good to see and report colour-ringed gulls on the Thames shore over the years, and the Black-headed Gull with yellow ring shown below is indicative of a locally ringed bird (Rainham/Pitsea landfills), looking forward to receiving its life history.

More average photos uploaded at 'Latest UK Bird Photos'. Please enjoy.