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.