Tuesday, 23 July 2013

More Meds

23rd July - I was hopeful that the forecasted thunderstorms might down an interesting wader or tern.  However, apart from some loud thunder claps and about 5 minutes worth of rain, nothing much materialised.  5 Common Sands were already present and a nice flock of 7 Little Egrets flew in - possibly my biggest flock here.  There were several juveniles in the flock and they stayed in front of the island for about 40 minutes before 6 of them flew off.  This splinter group returned shortly later, but an over flying helicopter sent them off again and I watched them fly off to the east.  The lone bird remained for a while but then also flew off east.

3 of the 7
Also present was a family party of Black Swans - a pair plus a half grown cygnet.  These first appeared here last Friday and they seem to like it.  I'm not sure where they bred - presumably along the Thames somewhere nearby and I did see what was probably the same adult pair here on a day back in April.

Late morning after the thunderstorm had gone through, a juvenile Med Gull appeared on the spit.  This is the third sighting following last Tuesday and last Thursday evening - possibly the same bird, but could just as easily be 3 different ones.

Otherwise, the usual pair of Oycs and a fly through Hobby were the only birds of note.

I made a second visit early afternoon just before school pick and found 2 juvenile Med Gulls amongst the throng of several hundred BHG, so that confirms that at least 2 birds have been involved in recent sightings.  Bird 2 below looks to have a bigger bill.

Bird 1

Bird 1

Bird 2
The regular adult YL Gull was loafing on the spit as to was a probable juvenile, but I didn't have time to scrutinise it properly before I had to leave.

CR BHG were well represented:

white EEM3 again - probably Dutch, but still no response from the ringer
black R34A again - regular French bird
black A2N0 - another returning bird seen last year.  This one was ringed in Germany and was first seen again this year on Sunday
white 25J3 - I think this is local bird and await details
white 507 - not seen today, but seen last Friday, was yet another returning bird seen last year.  This one was ringed in Copenhagen, Denmark

Amazing site fidelity when you consider where they have come from!

Tuesday, 16 July 2013

Juvenile Gulls

16th July - I made 2 visits today, a brief one in the morning and again in the early afternoon prior to school pick-up.  As I arrived in the morning, Oystercatchers were making a right din and 3 birds were chasing each other around the spit.  Eventually 1 flew off west and some time later it or another bird flew off west, still leaving 2 birds, so whether there were 3 or 4 birds present, I'm not sure.  There was a single adult and single juvenile LRP and an adult YL Gull, though the numbers of gulls, particularly BHG was down - they tend to build during the day.  I was pleased to see 3 juvenile LBB Gulls - my first juvenile LWHG of the season.

In the afternoon, it was absolutely baking, almost 30 degrees C!  Immediately on arrival, a quick scan of the now much larger BHG flock found a nice juvenile Med Gull - my first juvenile of this species at this site.  I made my way quickly to the viewpoint and grabbed a record shot - just in time, as soon after, for no apparent reason, it took off on its own and flew off west.

There were still 2 Oycs present, but now 3 LRPs, with this morning's 2 joined by another juvenile - nice to see some breeding success from somewhere.

The adult YL Gull was still on the spit, panting in the heat with the other gulls, though I could now see 4 juvenile LBB Gulls.  The recent CR BHGs were represented by yesterday's French bird black R34A, the Lithuanian bird black P430 and the probable Danish bird white 6EC.

Must get the first returning Greenshank soon and hopefully Black-tailed Godwit!!

Monday, 15 July 2013

2nd Summer Common Tern?

15th July - I braved the 28 degree early afternoon sun and spent my lunchtime at the lake.  Disappointed not to have heard about yesterday evening's Black-tailed Godwit, which I still need for the year and which was apparently present for over an hour in the evening - it wasn't there today!

It was baking hot in the sunshine and the only waders were the usual pair of Oycs.  Loads of gulls loafing about, the BHG on the nearside and the LWHG in the heat haze at the back of the spit.  2 adult YL Gulls were eventually picked out and a 2nd summer Common Gull flew over - there have been 1 or 2 different Commons about over the past week or so, I've certainly seen adult, 2nd and 1st summer birds recently.

The BHG contained 3 colour-ringed birds that I could see:
  1. another returning bird seen last year, black R34A, which was ringed as a juvenile at Oye Plage, Le Platier, Pas-de-Calais, France on 07/06/2011.  It was here in late July early August and again on several dates in November.
  2. white 6EC again, seen last week and details still awaited - probably Danish ringed
  3. white EEM3, which I first saw last Friday and is probably a Dutch ringed bird, but details awaited.
As I was about to leave, the Common terns were calling and I noticed a juvenile bird fly in.  Thinking it was 1 of the 2 recently fledged birds that were also on the end of the spit, I scanned through and found these still sitting there, so a newly arrived juvenile from somewhere - certainly not from this lake, as there were only 2 juvs raised this year.  Also, at the end of the spit was a newly arrived presumed 2nd summer Common Tern.  I don't recall seeing a bird in this plumage before and I am assuming it is 2nd summer because it looks too advanced for 1st summer, but it has obvious signs of immaturity - white forehead, black smudging on back of white cheek and remnants of dark feathering in the carpal bar.  Funnily enough, this too bore a metal BTO type ring on its left leg, joining at least 4 others that are metal-ringed only.  Another tern new in to the site, so birds are obviously on the move.  The regular CR Common Tern was also present.

At the back of the pit in the NE corner, a lone male Wigeon looked rather lonely.

Thursday, 11 July 2013

Lithuanian Gull

July 11th - BHG black P430 was present again today amongst the throng of BHG on the near spit, so I snapped a record shot to show the ring number.

Otherwise, little else of note - the usual pair of Oycs and a single adult LRP still remain.

Ducks continue to move through - the early returning Wigeon on Monday had departed on Tuesday.  These were replaced by a female Shoveler and a Pochard that looked like a juvenile, but may have been a summer female and a pair of Teal.  I didn't see any of these today!

Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Colour Rings

8th July - another gloriously hot and sunny day.  I wasn't hopeful of much at the pit, but made a lunchtime visit anyway.  It was immediately obvious that there had been an influx of post breeding Black-headed Gulls, with at least 300 birds counted, including 9 juveniles. Last year I recorded several colour-ringed BHGs during this period showing that many of these birds are coming in from Europe and as far away as Poland and the Baltics.  Today it was great to find a returning bird that I had first recorded on July 13th last year, this was black P430, a bird ringed as an adult female at Dumpiai dump, Klaipeda, Lithuania on 30th March 2010.  The ringer commented last year that he was surprised that it had reached England that early, so a week earlier this year - an amazing example of migration site fidelity.  I took a photo of the bird last year here .  There was also a bird with a white ring, code 6EC, which looks to be from Denmark.  I await details on that one.

The CR Common Tern seen at the end of June was present again today.  The split colour ring didn't seem as faded today and still looks like blue over yellow, so ringed as a chick here in 2009.  The BTO ring looks to be hanging off at the top, which is a bit worrying!

4 male Wigeon were new in today, otherwise it was some regular birds: 3 Shelduck, a pair plus another female; 2 Oystercatchers and a lone juvenile LRP.  A Hobby hawking odonata low over the lake surface in the NW corner was putting on a fine display and added a further distraction.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Schoolboy error!

4th July - a morning visit found that the Wood Sand had departed, though a Redshank was patrolling the back of the spit.  4 adult LRPs and an Oystercatcher completed the waders.  My first autumn Yellow-legged Gull was a third summer bird amongst about 100 loafing LWHG.  This bird had a distinctive black circular mark around the eye.

I picked up a Hobby hawking over the trees on the southern bank and watched it through my scope.  Suddenly it moved swiftly NE over the lake and then plummeted towards the surface of the lake.  It pulled up inches from hitting the water and there were some obvious water splashes.  I was now looking at a small wader sitting on the lake.  I immediately exclaimed "phalarope!" to Richard who was standing next to me, as the profile of the bird looked good for RN Phalarope, but I couldn't see any plumage detail, as it was right over on the eastern side of the lake.  Then stupidly, in hindsight, rather than staying to watch the bird and confirm further detail and ID, I raced off around the lake to the far side to try and get closer views from there.  Unbelievably in the 2 minutes it took to get there, the bird had disappeared - I was so annoyed with myself!  There is a good chance that this was a phalarope - my only concern is that it might have been a Common Sand unceremoniously dumped into the lake by the diving Hobby, though I haven't seen a Common Sand here for a couple of weeks and there was no sign of one today.  With an alert posture, this might show a longish neck - the bill looked long, straight and slender, more so than Common Sand, but was it really? The head seemed to show a high, steep forehead above the bill, but how accurate was this? - I didn't watch it long enough to confirm and my mental image is now slightly blurred - what a schoolboy error and a frustrating experience - you should never stop watching a bird before confirming an ID 100%!

Checking out some of the adjacent lakes, I came across no birds of note, but found some nice spikes of Bee Orchid and a single Southern Marsh Orchid, which was going over.


And here is yesterday's Scarlet Tiger that appeared mysteriously in my car

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

Another Wood Sand

3rd July - I had a spare 10 minutes on the way home from work before I had to go out, so I popped into the pit hoping for some Blackwits.  I met Alan S in the car park, so decided to leave my scope in the boot, as I had just found a Scarlet Tiger moth fluttering around on the inside of the back windscreen and didn't want to lose it - no idea how that got in there or from where.  Anyway, as we got to the bench I had a scan round with the bins and said to Alan, "what's that wader in front of the island, is it a Green Sand?"  It seemed too dainty and bobbing too actively, so I had my suspicions that it was in fact another Wood Sand.  Luckily Alan let me use his scope and sure enough, it was.  Another nice adult Wood Sand, the third this year and the second in 10 days, remarkable!

I didn't have time to check for anything else and was scopeless anyway, so had to leave.  If it's still there tomorrow, I'll hopefully get a record shot.  Should get one of the Scarlet Tiger too, as that's now safely potted up.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013

First year tick in 4 weeks

July 2nd - I paid another visit this afternoon just before school pick-up.  There was a little spotting of rain, but not much.  Birds were pretty much as I'd seen this morning, with Green Sand still present, though I couldn't see the juv LRP, but it might still be there.

At 14:35, I looked up and spied a large wader flying fairly high up northwards.  Through bins it was obviously a Curlew - my first of the year.  I soon lost it behind trees, as I was on the viewpoint, but shortly later I heard it calling to the north of the pit, so it presumably went straight through.  My 18th wader species of the year and I should get Black-tailed Godwit, Greenshank and Golden Plover to add to this, plus maybe something a bit more unusual.....

CR Common Tern

2nd July - post breeding adult waders are on the move.  July is a good month for Black-tailed Godwit at the pit, which I still need for the year, but not to be this morning.  A Green Sandpiper was new in as was a juvenile Little Ringed Plover, which was with 3 further adults - this might well be a locally bred bird, but it would be nice to see a few more juvs.  A pair of Oystercatchers flew in and copulated, so there might yet be more success here as well.  The Lapwing flock seems to be building each day and today there were 203 birds present, though they looked to be almost all adults.

Quite a few of the Common Terns that rest on the spit have BTO type rings on.  On Sunday afternoon I noted 4 birds, 2 with rings on their left legs and 2 with rings on their right.  2 of these are an obvious pair as well.  Common Terns have been rung at this site and other local sites for many years, but these have also had a split colour ring on.  It is possible that this colour ring might have come off, or maybe they never had one in the first place - who knows.  With my optics, it is impossible to read the metal ring code to confirm.  However, Sunday also produced a Common Tern with a split colour ring on its right leg and a metal BTO type on its left.  The problem with this bird was that the colour ring was so faded, it was extremely difficult to ascertain the correct colours.  I took a few snaps and blew them right up to see if that helped and it looks to be yellow below, which would make it a bird rung at this site as a chick.  The upper colour looks to have been a dark one, maybe blue or green.  If it is dark green, it matches the scheme used in 2007 - if it's blue I'm not sure.  The metal ring also looks to have come open, as you can see the inside of the leg all the way down - which is not good!

Still no YLGs yet in with the LWHG flock, but I'm sure they will start to come over the next week or so, while the BHG flock is also building, with 30+ birds - they don't breed here.  A juvenile was noted on Sunday, but not today and there have been no CR birds to scrutinise as yet.