Sunday, 9 April 2017

Iceland Gull in Peterborough

I don't think I've seen many (if any) white-winged gulls in Peterborough in April before, which I guess is quite surprising - that said, I probably haven't spent too much time looking at gulls here in previous Aprils. Both Glaucous and Iceland Gulls had been lingering at Dogsthorpe Tip throughout March and so I popped in on Thursday morning to see if either was still around - the Iceland was.

There doesn't look to be much food waste going in to Dogsthorpe at the moment and, with the incinerator in full effect just a few miles away, I guess gull numbers will dwindle here. Then again, I've been uttering that threat for the best part of a decade and yet still the area still draws in thousands of birds in winter, so hopefully the end is not nigh, even if gulls can't be expected to feed successfully on sofas, sawdust and various other bits of dry waste. The tip really must be close to completion, though - there is hardly any room to put more waste now.

juvenile Iceland Gull, Dogsthorpe, 6 April 2017

Monday, 3 April 2017

April arrives - yet I'm still looking at gulls

I managed to get out a fair bit over the weekend and logged a few migrants, but once again it was the gulls that provided the bulk of the entertainment. A leisurely walk around Chiswick House & Gardens on Saturday morning produced a Nuthatch and my first Swallow of the year zipping over, as well as the usuals. I've recently bought the Canon 100-400 ii zoom, and I must say image stabilisation has changed my life - my hands aren't very steady and I was amazed at how good the IS is at minimising my wobble! It seems pretty sharp too.

Mistle Thrush, Chiswick, 1 April 2017

The river produced the usual assortment of gulls as well as four Shelducks along the Fulham stretch and a Meadow Pipit over. A mid-afternoon visit to London Wetland Centre failed to produced G0UT (which had been seen in the morning) but a white-winged gull was picked up in flight at 15:30. It was distant and high up, but I managed to get it in the scope and confirm it was the Iceland rather than the regular Glaucous Gull that has been knocking around. The Iceland had been seen here again on Thursday and was presumably making the most of the warm conditions of Saturday to drift around West London after having been seen at Beddington that morning.

Juvenile Iceland Gull over London Wetland Centre, 1 April 2017

One each of Fieldfare and Redwing were the highlights of another early traipse around Chiswick House on Sunday morning, although it was clear that there had been an increase in singing Blackcaps overnight - in fact that species seemed to be very common everywhere on Sunday.

After brunch I saw a BirdGuides message that the Glaucous was back at the WWT for the first time since Thursday, so I cycled down there and finally enjoyed prolonged views of this bird - my second local white-winged gull in as many days. The sharp contrast between the pale head/upper neck and darker body seems to suggest that it is Beddington bird #2 (see Pete's blog). I wonder why it's suddenly decided to change its behaviour and spend most of its time around the river?

Juvenile Glaucous Gull, London Wetland Centre, 2 April 2017

In the afternoon I went to watch the boat race with my housemates, only for the Glauc to come steaming up the Thames by the Old Ship pub at 16:45 in hot pursuit of the women's event - my third sighting of this monster in a week. And then, on Monday morning, it was back at the WWT, performing well but generally being lazy - seems hard to avoid it at present. Who'd have thought white-winged gulls would routinely figure among my early-spring birding highlights in West London? Not me!

From white to black ... I was almost as excited by this Rook, which flew over the WWT at 10:15 on Monday morning. For those living outside the capital, seeing a Rook inside Zone 4 (i.e. Central London and the 'inner' suburbs) is a genuine challenge, and you have to hope for the occasional flyover like this. Needless to say it was a first for me here.

Mega! Rook over London Wetland Centre, 3 April 2017