Saturday, 19 August 2017

A ringed Yellow-legged Gull today

I spent this afternoon chucking out bread and feeding the London gulls. My regular pastime. If there was actually some feeling that there was other stuff to find locally I would diversity, but what with all these westerlies, I was back to my default position. Rotherhithe, Thamesmead and Greenwich were all quiet over the high tide period and so I headed north over the river to Thames Barrier Park with the first sniff of foreshore exposed. And sitting there when I arrived was this ringed adult Yellow-legged Gull: -
adult Yellow-legged Gull YL5T Thames Barrier Park, London 19th August 2017
I quickly fired off an email to Paul Roper, knowing it was a Thames ringed bird, and within minutes he came back with an enthuasiastic reply. It had been ringed as a juvenile at Rainham tip, London on 27th August 2011 (photos of it then here) before turning at Nurlu, Somme, northeastern France on 20th January 2012 and then finally being seen the following winter, on 29th January 2013, in southeast France at Bourg-les-Valence, Drome (photo here).

So where has it been since? Who knows but presumably it is now breeding in eastern France, Switzerland or Germany, where there are a lot of lakes and few birders. And why do I speculate this orgin? From the limited evidence I have from this bird's previous movements and three ringing recoveries of Yellow-legged Gulls that I've had in London/Essex - two from the big Swiss lakes and one from southern Germany.

I had a further three juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls at Thames Barrier Park this afternoon with Dante and Jamie P, while there were three more at the O2 this evening - felt a bit cheated with this paltry total given that we'd waded through the hordes of Bros fans on their way to listen to a couple of peroxide blonds from yesteryear sing 'When Will I Be Famous'.

juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls Thames Barrier Park, London 19th August 2017

Wednesday, 16 August 2017

Meanwhile back in London...

I've been away from London since my last post. Had a lovely time with Karen in Kenya and Zanzibar seeing all sorts of exotica. From big cats to whales, monkeys to ostriches, bustards to huge numbers of wildebeest. But there was one thing that was missing... not a single gull was seen! So since Sunday, I have had time to fix that with a few local sojourns.

On Sunday, I managed to get Josh J out of his posh west London quarter and over to the south and east with Dante and I. We started at the O2 where there were two lovely juvenile Mediterranean Gulls, the first of the season for me here in London and both metal ringed! With a bit of camera clicking at different angles, we were able to establish that both birds were from The Netherlands with ring codes 3740890 and 3742464, so given that they're only 1,574 digits out I'm assuming they'll be from the same colony. Let's wait and see!
juvenile Mediterranean Gull (Dutch ringed, bird 1) O2 Greenwich, London 14th August 2017
juvenile Mediterranean Gull (Dutch ringed, bird 2) O2 Greenwich, London 14th August 2017
And then onto today, where I had another juvenile Mediterranean Gull on the mud by the O2 in Greenwich today. This one was unringed, and given that I only saw one juvenile there in August last year, it seems that the increasing breeding numbers just outside of London are directly translating into more here. Though still waiting on one in Rotherhithe for the year.

juvenile Mediterranean Gull (unringed) O2 Greenwich, London 16th August 2017
Since I left in late July, for some reason, there has been a reduction in Yellow-legged Gull numbers. I've had just the one in Rotherhithe since I returned - a second-summer yesterday - while numbers at the O2 and Thames Barrier Park have been in the low single figures with mainly juveniles still hanging about. And no Caspian Gulls either, so hopefully there'll be a few turn up with the next load of easterlies.

Friday, 28 July 2017

Caspian and Bonaparte's Gulls plus a Black-headed Gull from Lithuania

There seems to be a fair few gulls on the move locally. Not least was this 1st-summer Caspian Gull at Thames Barrier Park on Saturday. It's a new individual into London, and not one of the remnants from last winter. First seen by David DL on Friday morning, and nice to catch up on this relatively matted, dark mantled bird - a real brute too: -

1st-summer Caspian Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 22nd July 2017
Other than this bird, it has been nice to find Yellow-legged Gulls really locally. No juveniles yet in Rotherhithe but the mud by the Hilton Hotel continues to draw them in - three on 22nd July (two 2nd-summers and a 1st-summer) being the highest count and my first juvenile here today - and a regular adult on Greenland Dock continued to linger until 16th July.
adult Yellow-legged Gull Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe 16th July 2017
near-adult Yellow-legged Gull River Thames, Rotherhithe 16th July 2017

1st-summer Yellow-legged Gull River Thames, Rotherhithe 15th July 2017
 Little else doing though, so a visit to the wader mecca of Cliffe with Jamie P and Dante on 15th was in order. Great birds but poor, distant views - a really early juvenile Marsh Sandpiper and 10(!) Black-winged Stilts, three adults and seven juveniles! Gone are the days when Sammy or the odd vagrant was your only sniff of a chance with this species. And yesterday, 27th July, Dante and I made a quick trip out to Oare Marshes where the regular adult Bonaparte's Gull was showing well, and the wader fest contained a nice adult Curlew Sandpiper. A white-ringed juvenile Mediterranean Gull there too had been ringed in Antwerp in mid-June, so that was good to see, as was a single Garganey.
adult Bonaparte's Gull Oare Marshes, Kent 27th July 2017
On return to London, we stopped off at Thamesmead in the hope of baiting a few large gulls in. However, this didn't happen and we had to be content with the smalls which included this inquisitive adult Black-headed Gull all the way from Lithuania (awaiting full ring details): -
Lithuanian-ringed Black-headed Gull Thamesmead, London 27th July 2017

Thursday, 20 July 2017

juvenile Caspian Gulls in Romania - a belated post

Late July last year (2016) I headed out to Romania and never got round to posting my images. I have a feeling it was because as soon as I got back, I headed straight out to Namibia. Essentially it was a post-school break up trip to see a few juvenile Caspian Gulls, but given the amount of general birdlife about, it was just a nice break if I'm honest - Red-footed Falcons, Red-backed and Lesser Grey Shrikes. So just in time for this year's influx of eastern yutes into the UK, here is a reminder of what they look like - slick, dark based tertials with that typical 'thumbnail', medium brown upperparts with delicate pale edgings, nice dark based greater-coverts, barrel-chested, pale/lightly barred underwing and nice slim, long legs. Enjoy the shots...
: -

juvenile Caspian Gulls Mamaia/Vadu, Romania July 2016
I enjoyed it so much that, you never know, I might even go again at some point!

Sunday, 9 July 2017

Yellow-legged Gulls have arrived in London

July starts to feel slightly autumnal. The Black-headed Gulls have been piling through this week, including quite a few juveniles, and there seems to be generally a lot more gulls in London by the day. I managed to squeeze in an hour or so at the O2 on Thursday evening, where there were four Yellow-legged Gulls which included this pretty nice looking juvenile: -

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Greenwich O2, London 6th July 2017
Meanwhile back in Rotherhithe the same afternoon, there was a first-summer on the River Thames and an adult on Greenland Dock that showed quite nicely too: -
adult Yellow-legged Gull Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe, London 6th July 2017
Having managed to get myself out of bed yesterday morning, I just caught a bit of mud on the rising tide in Rotherhithe and managed two second-summers by the Hilton Hotel: -

second-summer Yellow-legged Gulls Rotherhithe, London 8th July 2017
While today, I headed to Thames Barrier Park with Jamie and Dante, and it seemed that the Yellow-legged Gull summer party was now in full flow with a total of 13 birds - 4 juveniles, 5 first-summers, a second-summer, two near-adults and an adult! Really enjoyable midsummer gulling just a few miles from home. 

juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls (above 6 photos) Thames Barrier Park, London 9th July 2017

1st-summer Yellow-legged Gulls (above 3 photos) Thames Barrier Park, London 9th July 2017
near-adult Yellow-legged Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 9th July 2017
second-summer Yellow-legged Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 9th July 2017
And back in Rotherhithe, the same adult Yellow-legged Gull was on Greenland Dock again. So that is that, another weekend gone and just two more weeks of school left.

Saturday, 1 July 2017

The new season kicks off in style

It seems like a long while since I have had a decent day on the Thames. But today did eventually materialise into a decent haul, despite the first few hours being as quiet as the last few weeks. I'd decided to give the O2 and Thames Barrier Park a thorough going over during the low tide period today, particularly with a 1.50pm low tide which is about as ideal as it gets. Starting off at Thames Barrier Park, things were quiet with just a second-summer Yellow-legged Gull and it was the same at the O2 - a single second-summer Yellow-legged Gull (plus the regular Lesser Black-backed Gull ringed in Bristol in 1997).
2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull O2 Greenwich, London 1st July 2017
So that was that, and it even got to the stage where I phoned up Alan C to ask him how the Bee-eaters were showing and also completely put Dante S off coming to join me as it was so quiet. So it was back on the tube one stop to Canning Town, then two stops down on the DLR back to Thames Barrier Park. And look what I then found: -

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull Thames Barrier Park, London 1st July 2017
This is my equal earliest ever juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, on the same date as I saw my first in 2015. I had kind of been hoping for one this weekend, especially with the flock that hit Dungeness during the week. And so with the first juvenile large gull predictably this species, it is now officially the start of the new gull watching season! Then with the next loaf of bread, in came the first Caspian Gull from last season - X307 - which is a German-ringed bird from the Grabendorfer See colony. Now looking worse for wear plumage wise, although some nice new primaries evident, it has always and still is one of the more marginal birds: -

1st-summer Caspian Gull X307 Thames Barrier Park, London 1st July 2017
There were also a sprinkling of Yellow-legged Gulls about, probably five in total, with all but one being second-summers: -

2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gulls Thames Barrier Park, London 1st July 2017
And then back at Rotherhithe, on the dock next to my flat, there was a nice close encounter with another second-summer Yellow-legged Gull: -
2nd-summer Yellow-legged Gull Greenland Dock, Rotherhithe, London 1st July 2017
Three more weeks of school left, and the summer holidays can't come soon enough.