The gulls were quite flighty when I got there, even the LWHG, which is quite unusual, but at least there seemed to be good numbers of larger gulls - better than on my last roost visit. It wasn't long before I picked out a nice 2nd winter Caspian Gull - it looked similar to the bird I saw before Christmas, but I thought the bill may have been a bit stronger on this bird. Shortly later, a lovely 1st winter Caspian Gull pitched up - this was a medium/large bird with quite a long looking bill. Both birds were together briefly, before they spooked again and they separated. It was a nice clear evening, so the light was pretty good which lengthened the watching time. I kept scanning and gulls kept arriving, I was hoping for a nice white winger, but one never materialised. At about 4:30pm I picked out yet another Caspian Gull, this time a 3rd winter. Initially on the water, it eventually strode out on long legs to stand on the spit. I'm not sure I have ever seen two Casps together here before, but I have definitely never seen three. It is a reflection of the numbers wintering in the region now, there have certainly been good numbers at Hedgerley landfill this winter and many of our gulls feed there during the day. The only downside was that I was unable to get any record shots of any use, as my digiscoping struggles to focus in low light, light that was fine for my eyes, but too dim for the camera. A couple of efforts are below:
|The 2w in the middle|
I continued my walk. At the top of the slope, a Raven flew past me and was joined by a second bird. They flew over the woodland for a bit and then disappeared. I then heard Yellowhammer calls and sure enough a small flock of 5 birds were in the tops of nearby oak trees amongst numerous Chaffinches, a handful of Reed Buntings and a single Lesser Redpoll (I only ever seem to see one of these here, but quite frequently - can it be the same bird?). They were using the trees to sit in and then flighting to another area of game cover that still stood.
|poor record, poor light|
|poor record, poor light|
I came across another Raven later in the afternoon flying north over the athletics track, so a three Raven day!
Edit: Dave C reported a Merlin briefly mid afternoon at Emmetts. This would be a patch tick for me and a bird I am always looking out for over these fields, so a bit gutted, but pleased that a Merlin may still be in the area.
26th January - I gave Emmetts a look today, hoping for Merlin, but it was a bit windy and gave up as the rain started. I saw 5 Grey Partridge today, a pair on one edge of the cut cover and three males on the opposite edge before moving to the longer grass by the hedge. There was also at least 38 Snipe roosting on the bare field today, but only about 200 Golden Plover, always in flight.