Saturday, 8 February 2020

Beckton Iceland Gull

Away from the patch and just a short trip down the A406 I enjoyed a good morning session photographing the Beckton juvenile Iceland Gull. I've been meaning to pop over to see this bird for sometime as I haven't seen a London Iceland Gull in almost six years. The views were initially distant as the bird loafed around the roof of the recycling centre on the opposite side of the creek, but then Shaun Harvey rocked up carrying a weeks supply of various kinds of stale bread. This worked an absolute treat as the bird soon joined the melee of gulls fighting over the goodies. Whilst the bread lasted we both enjoyed some great views of a very smart Arctic Gull - just a word of warning for anyone else thinking of doing the same, don't use tortilla wraps! These frisbee shaped flatbreads are great for throwing some distance but the gulls just ignored them.

Juvenile, White-winger

Juvenile, White-winger

Juvenile, White-winger


Juvenile, White-winger

Juvenile, White-winger

Juvenile, White-winger

Juvenile, White-winger

Juvenile, White-winger

Juvenile, White-winger

Juvenile, White-winger

Sunday, 2 February 2020

Wintering Turtle Dove

It's taken me a couple of attempts but I've finally caught up with the wintering Turtle Dove at Valentines Park, Ilford - and to say I'm chuffed would be an understatement!

We all know just how rare these birds have become but to put it into some kind of personal context this is the first Turtle Dove I've seen in the London recording area for almost 3 years, the last one being in the spring of 2017 at Rainham Marsh, and that was just a brief view as it rapidly flew along the sea wall. I've been birding at Wanstead for almost a decade now and I've never seen one on the patch! Each and every Turtle Dove you see should be cherished as who knows when you'll see another one, so if you haven't made the trip to Ilford yet...then go, I'm so pleased I did.

Wintering, London, UK

Wintering, London, UK

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

'Monster' Yellow-legged Gull

The patch is still as dull as ditchwater but at least the gulls are still keeping me amused as I count down the days until the first Wheatear arrives...

The latest gull of interest is this absolute 'Monster' of a 1st-winter Yellow-legged Gull...it dwarfs the local band of wintering Herring Gulls on the Flats and is not far short of being Great Black-Backed Gull in size! Apart from its size the other feature of interest is the rather striking but odd pale coloured bill. Although unusual it's not uncommon for large Gulls to have aberrant shaped/coloured bills (an example here of a bird referenced 'Pinky' on the Thames from Dec 2016) but none the less, when you're expecting to see a dark coloured bill and then you're confronted with something not dissimilar to an Albatross pointing in your direction, it's not surprising gull ID can be a bit of a challenge at times.

1st-winter, 2CY, Monster

1st-winter, 2CY

1st-winter, 2CY

1st-winter, 2CY

1st-winter, 2CY

1st-winter, 2CY

Saturday, 25 January 2020

When is a Rook, not a Rook?

The top of photo is an adult Carrion Crow, the bottom photo is a juvenile Rook - or is it?

The culmen shape and length look good for Rook but surely if it was a Rook (now into its 2nd calendar year) then you would expect to see the greyish-white starting to appear around the base of the bill (at least a little bit) instead of an all black bill the same as a Carrion Crow. The rounded head and lack of noticeable peaked crown also points towards Carrion Crow. So...if it's not a Rook, then is it just an aberrant Carrion Crow with a rather straight and pointy culmen?

Carrion Crow
Juvenile Rook?