Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Wet Wet Wet

It has been a pretty wet week - certainly when I had the time to visit the site!  Consequently, not much to report.

Snipe numbers continue to build and it's nice to see them all huddled together on the spit - 18 birds noted on the 21st was a jump of 5 birds and today there were 19.

There haven't been many gulls to look through on my visits and I haven't seen the big male 1st winter Caspian Gull again, though it has been reported a few times.  Highlights were a 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull on the 21st in the pre-roost and a strikingly white-headed 1st winter bird at the roost on the 25th - this bird had several pro-Caspian features in isolation, but altogether fitted YLG much better.  The roost on the 25th also had 31 Great Black-backed Gulls - the first sizeable count of the winter - mostly adults, but at least a few 1st and 2nd winters noted.

The wintering Green Sand was seen again today and I was able to count some of the wildfowl: 74 Wigeon, 47 Teal, 32 Shoveler, 27 Gadwall, 20 Pochard, 31 GC Grebes and 1 Dabchick.  This gives a guide to the sorts of numbers of birds around at the moment.

The most notable find in the colour-ringing world was a Lapwing.  This bird was first seen on the 18th and I've seen it 3 times since, including today.  It is part of the large flock that spends its time on the spit (600 - 1,000 birds but varies each day) and it seems to like being on the near side of the spit, which is why it is visible!  The bird has a yellow ring above both knees, green over orange rings on the left leg and metal over red rings on the right leg.  Investigations seem to point to this being a bird rung in Germany, but as yet I have had no reply to my e-mail.

Saturday, 17 November 2012

Knot too Misty

16th November - It was a grey, overcast and misty day pretty much all day.  I paid a quick morning visit and again in the early afternoon before school pick-up hoping that the misty conditions might have brought something in.  The highlight of the morning visit was a single Golden Plover that came in calling and landed on the spit for about 20 minutes before flying off SW.  The small huddle of Snipe on the near spit had risen to 11 birds.  Otherwise, I contented myself by looking through the gulls and picking out some colour rings.  Of these, 2 were regular birds, BHG black R34A from Pas-de-Calais, France and LBBG red KB3T ringed at Rainham Marshes.  The 3rd was a new bird, an adult LBBG with dark blue darvic and orange code AMW.  I knew that this combination made it a bird ringed in Gloucester and duly sent the details off.  A speedy response gave me the following details:

It was ringed as an adult bird on 5th Feb 2007 at Stoke Orchard landfill site, Gloucestershire.  It had been noted at Beddington SF, London on 20th Nov 2009, back at Gloucester Landfill on 8th April 2011 and now my record.

My early afternoon visit was in the company of Dave C.  There did not appear to be much change from the morning, however, just before 1pm, a Dunlin flew in from the south calling and landed on the near spit.  Knowing that a Knot had been seen in the morning in Bedfordshire, I remarked to Dave, "Why couldn't that have been a Knot!".  Amazingly, a couple of minutes later, a mid sized wader was picked up flying towards us over the spit.  My initial thought was that it was the Golden Plover returning, however, this was quickly dispelled when the bird banked to the left and revealed itself to be, you've guessed it, a Knot!  I was well chuffed, because this was a patch tick.  The bird landed quite close to the Snipe on the near spit and appeared to go to roost, however, after a few minutes it started to feed. We were joined by Jackie N and watched the bird feeding - I attempted some record shots, but in the gloom, they were worse than normal.  I have posted one here just for record purposes, but it is truly appalling!  I'm not sure what happened next, whether we were chatting too much, but on looking back for the bird, it was nowhere to be seen and in fact was never seen again, so had presumably flown off as silently as it had arrived.  Several other birders arrived, but unfortunately dipped.

Just about.........

Another great angle!

Alan S and Kevin H who stayed until after 3pm (I had to leave for the school run) were rewarded with the arrival of the 1st winter male Caspian Gull again at 3:15pm.

The Danish BHG white 507 was also present again briefly in the afternoon.

Wednesday, 14 November 2012

No Casp but Med

14th November - a lovely sunny afternoon that appeared to have pushed back the arrival time of the LWHG.  They only started arriving at c2:30pm and few were present when I had to leave for school pick-up.  Quite a few viewers were still there, so I hope that the Casp made an appearance for them.  My compensation was in the form of a 1st winter Med Gull that appeared briefly on the lake, made a move to the spit and then seemed to disappear after the gulls were spooked.  They seemed to be spooked quite a bit this afternoon.

A few CR gulls made reappearances:

Herring Gull white A4HH
BHG white 507

Otherwise, the regular Green Sand, 8 Snipe and 48 Wigeon were all that I noted.

Caspo Becoming Regular

13th November - the big male 1st winter Caspian Gull looks to be a regular visitor at the moment.  First seen last Friday, it was reported on both Saturday and Sunday and it came in again today.  The big gulls start arriving between 1:30pm and 2pm and today it came it about 1:50pm.  Luckily, most gulls were settling on the near spit, so it gave much better views than last Friday, although the gloomy light didn't help photos.  It had also picked up some yellow staining on the back of the right ear covert.

Shame I chopped his tail off!

Blurred! But shows his long legs
A female Goldeneye was also present, roosting in the NE corner.  These seem to be quite scarce here, so 3 birds this autumn is nice.  Other ducks that I bothered to count were 43 Wigeon, 18 Gadwall and 16 Shoveler.  Quite a few Teal, but these were too spread out to count easily.  The Green Sand was present again for quite a time, mainly on the back of the spit and the huddle of Snipe had risen to 8 birds.

Just before midday, a large flock of Golden Plover came in from the east.  They circled around quite high for several minutes presumably thinking about landing, but never came very low and then flew off west.  They then returned, circled around again before departing W/NW.  I find it quite hard to accurately estimate these large flocks, so took a photo and counted them on the computer - not the most interesting job!  I had thought about 600 - 700 birds, so a counted total of 741 means I wasn't too far out, though I usually under estimate.  These large flocks of Goldies when they occur seem to be about now up to the end of the year.

741 birds in here
Just after the Goldies had gone, my attention was drawn to a strange song coming from just behind me.  I didn't recognise the phrasing apart from the more obvious occasional 'chiff' and 'chaff'.  From this the bird was obviously a Chiffchaff, but was it nominate? - I haven't heard one with all the additonal phrases around the occasional 'chiff' and 'chaff' before.  It was around for about 15 minutes uttering short song phrases on and off, though I didn't hear it call at all.  It was very difficult to get a look at, feeding high in the trees and losing itself amongst the foliage.  The best I got on it from below was pale looking undersides, dark legs and quite a prominent supercilium and dark eyestripe, which also seems a bit odd for nominate Chiffchaff.  Unfortunately, it then disappeared - I'm hoping it sticks so that I can satisfy my curiosity.

Aa adult Herring Gull with a white darvic and black code A4HH appeared.  This bird has been seen before at LMGP, but not since spring 2010.  It was handled by the RSPCA as an orphan from Worthing ,West Sussex and was in the centre there for 32 days, released on 15/08/2006. It has been seen at Springfield Farm landfill on 19/07/2008 and 04/02/2011 and at LMGP on 03/10/2010.  I await further details of any subsequent sightings.

Last but not least - I met 2 older gentlemen who I don't know, but who appear to watch LMGP occasionally, often mid-week.  In chatting, they mentioned to me that about this time last year they had seen 3 'yellow-billed' swans on the lake that they had identified as 2 adult and a juvenile Whooper Swan.  Being only casual birdwatchers, they had never reported their sighting.  Amazing! wild swans are rare at LMGP and you think a site is well-watched, but obviously things get through, seen or otherwise!

Friday, 9 November 2012

More Gulls

9th November - I spent a bit of time looking through the gulls today.  Pick of the bunch was a nice 1st winter Caspian Gull - it looked pretty big and was probably a male.  Unfortunately, it spent all of its time at the back of the spit, so my photos are very much record only.  I left it at 3pm whilst it was battling with some carrion near the island.

I picked out 3 colour-ringed birds:

BHG - white 507 - the regular Danish rung bird
BHG - black R34A - the 4th sighting of a French rung bird
LBBG - red KB3T - another regular LMGP bird returning after last being seen in March

After I left, Jackie N and Malcolm P found a nice adult winter Med Gull.


7th November - the green colour-ringed 1st winter gull reappeared on the spit this afternoon.  I'd had my doubts on Sunday that this was actually a rather pale Lesser Black-back rather than a Yellow-leg, but had convinced myself it was YLG - for one thing, the scaps always looked a bit odd for YLG and it was also tiny - almost the smallest LWHG present.  Seeing it again today, it looked more like LBBG than YLG.  Luckily Neil W turned up as I saw the gull - I told him of my doubts on the original ID - and through his zoom lens we were eventually able to read the ring.  The letters looked yellow on green, which made them very diffcult to read, but we both agreed on KATH.  The CR website didn't list any schemes with this combination of colour codes, but a Dutch scheme did fit if the letters were white and we had missed reading a dot after the K.  So I tried this one and bingo it was one of their's and it was indeed a Lesser Black-backed Gull - judging by the size I'd say that it was also probably female.  Apparently the white letters get stained which makes them look yellow!

Almost illegible yellow code!

The scheme had monitored this bird from a day old chick on 13th June 2012 at a colony at Valley, Kelderhuispolder, Texel, NL.  It was last noted here on 19th July and no other records until now.

Also of note today was the reappearance of a female Tufted Duck with a nasal saddle coded BFK.  See http://littlemarlowgp.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/some-spring-movement.html
It seems to use LMGP as a staging post to another wintering ground, but it will be interesting to see whether she hangs around this year.

Wednesday, 7 November 2012

Wintering Green Sand?

6th November - a Green Sand was seen on the spit today and has been reported sporadically over the past few weeks.  It might well be wintering in the area, as 2 did last year and might even be one of these birds.  It seems to spend most of its time in the STW area, but comes over to the spit occasionally.

BHG black R34A was seen again this morning having not been seen since 2 records in late July and early August.  This is a Pas-de-Calais bird.  White 507 also made its 4th or 5th appearance - this is the bird from Copenhagen.

6 Common Snipe were in close proximity on the near spit, but I made no attempt to count the other wildfowl.

Colour-ringed Yellow-legged Gull

4th November - had another opportunity to visit the roost.  Unlike the previous Sunday, there were quite a few LWHG coming in, maybe 500 plus birds.  On the near spit, my attention was drawn to a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull that was sporting a mid green colour ring on its left leg and a metal ring above the knee on the right.  I was able to decipher that there were 4 digits in the code, the second being an A and the last probably an H, though the first could have been R, K or even X and not much on the third.  At this point it tucked this leg under its belly and remained resolutely standing on one leg for the next 45 minutes! Unbelievably, when it wanted to move it hopped and when it flew a short distance it kept the left leg tucked up, dangled the right and landed on this single leg!  Eventually, a Peregrine came over and flushed everything and this bird disappeared, so I'm hoping it makes a reappearance.  It is possibly from a Dutch scheme.

Not a great angle

Better - shame it's blurred!
A Little Egret came in to roost, as one had done the previous week.  Otherwise, no other scarcities noted.


29th October - a walk around the southern bank found a small group of Siskins feeding in alders.  Amongst these were at least 3 Lesser Redpolls, which had eluded me earlier in the year and were actually a patch year tick!

Pochard numbers had swelled to 53 and a 1st winter Great Black-backed Gull had joined the regular adult.