Sunday, 24 June 2012

Cockney Gannet

The month of June is usually the quietest month of the year for birders, the spring migration has finished and the return of autumn migration is still some way off. Some birders fill this void in their lives in other ways, turning to moth trapping or hawking dragonflies, or even taking a family holiday (always good to get a few brownie points in the bag) to fill this natural lull in the birding calendar, but on occasion something, somewhere does turn up!

Firstly was the news of a Little Swift seen on the Wirral in Merseyside and then later roosting nearby, this being only the 24th record of this very rare Swift - as many of the previous records of this bird have been difficult to pin down, this one caught the attention of many a birder. Then, less rare but of equal interest locally was the news of a Gannet on the East Warwick reservoir in Walthamstow - what a Gannet should be doing on an east London reservoir in June, when it should be riding the waves of the North Sea who really knows! Typically when sea birds are seen inland and the weather has not been a contributing factor in its arrival, i.e storm force winds, these birds are usually ill in some way or they may have even suffered feather or wing damage. Unfortunately due to this most birds perish as they are unable to feed sufficiently to return to full health, and within a few days a dead carcass is usually discovered.

Is it still alive?
Having seen the Gannet at East Warrick reservoir this morning sitting static on a Tern raft for most of the time I was there, with its head tucked into its wing and only the occasional wing stretch and glance around, I sadly fear this bird will be heading, not for the North sea but most probably an early grave! I would have loved to have seen the bird in flight, banking its long stiff wings over the water of the reservoir. Still, whatever its fortune, it was still a very smart bird to see, this time not on the cliff face of a large rocky outreach but on an inland London reservoir.

Yes, it's alive!

But for how much longer!

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