Monday 26 November 2007

Mediterranean Gull (the results)

If you subscribe to the London Birders group this is old news but...
Thanks to Fiona Barclay, who captured these video stills, and Des McKenzie, who did the leg work on the results, we now know the origin of our beloved new Mediterranean friend at Kensington Gardens.

The green ring (AAZS) on its left shank means this bird flew in from Germany, the Pionierinsel on the Elbe Estuary to be exact. The area has a healthy population of about 4000 Common Gulls so Des reckons it arrived with them... and I believe him!

Read Des's original report here (members only).

Tuesday 20 November 2007

Egyptian Geese, Kensington Gardens

I arrived at the Round Pond too early to see the Med Gull, or any other gull for that matter, this morning. But that void was happily filled by everyones' favourite catagory C water fowl, the egyptian Goose! Four to be exact with one pair appearing to cement their relationship with a bit of light displaying (see movie clip).

The Bat House Project

From left: Jorgen Tandberg, Yo Murata, Jeremy Deller

Regulars of the London Wetland Centre may be interested to learn of an imminent architectural addition to the site. As you undoubtedly know The Bat House Project is a competition initiated by artist and Turner Prize winner Jeremy Deller to design a home for bats. Launched in June 2007, the competition has been open to architects, students, Schoolchildren and the public with the task to 'create a building of aesthetic and enviromental excellence' to entice both bats and bat enthusiasts to SW13. Tonight, at The Royal Institue of British Architects, the overall prize was duly presented to architectural students Jorgen Tandberg and Yo Murata for their excellent realisation of the brief (below). Worthy winners indeed, Congratulations!

Saturday 17 November 2007

Mediterranean Gull, Kensington Gardens

It was a real priveledge to bird Hyde Park and Kensington Gardens this morning with some esteemed birding company. Fiona Barclay of Birdguides was down there hoping to get some footage of our visiting Mediterrean Gull under the guidence of local patch experts Nick Tanner and Central London recorder, Des McKenzie, who found the bird. Here's my pictorial efforts on the sighting which look decidedly inferior to the HD footage Fiona was capturing.

Other birds of note; 2nd Winter Great Black-backed Gull (Nick), ringed Black-headed Gull (14 year old visitor from Copenhagen), 20+ Common Gull, 1 adult Tawny Owl (Des).

Tuesday 6 November 2007

Conil de le Frontera, Spain

Conil is just along the coast from where we stayed in Spain. West, over a footbridge, from the main promenade offered a bit of habitat variation in the form of a small estuary, coastal scrub and farmland. Here's what I managed to photograph there.

Stone Curlew
Stone Curlew (c.60 present)

Audouin's Gull
Audouin's Gull (c.90 present)

Audouin's Gull
Audouin's Gull (c.90 present)

Kentish Plover
Kentish Plover

Kentish Plover
Adult Kentish Plover (front) compared with juvenile Ringed Plover

Little Swifts?

Little Swift Notes
Now, I've never been birding in Spain before and I've never seen the more likely White-rumped Swift but I'm fairly convinced I saw four Little Swifts during our recent trip to Fuente del Gallo.

The local birder I met certainly expressed his disbelief at my report but there were too many well-lit, close-range diagnostics on show for me to dare and believe my luck. I'm happy to be proved wrong so if you have any knowledge of these birds please feel free to leave comments below. After all, according to John Butler's Birdwatching on Spain's Southern Coast (2004) there have only been "35 records since 1980".

I had a good couple of hours to study these birds during which they regularly flew within 4-5 meters of me. All showed no sign of a white trailing edge to their secondaries and an extensive white patch on their rumps (viewable from below) but the most convincing feature had to be the complete lack of any fork in their short, square tails. Of course, a decent photograph proved impossible.

Anyway I'll report the sighting and conditions to the Spanish Rarities Committee and let you know what they say - either way.

Fuente del Gallo, Spain

Here are some shots from Fuente del Gallo, Southern Spain. I didn't go to any of the prestigious Andalucian spots during our visit but had some nice moments within walking distance of the villa. More to follow soon...

Zitting Cisticola
Zitting Cisticola (Fan-tailed Warbler)

Black Redstart
Black Redstart

Crag MartinsSpotless Starlings
Sardinian Warbler
Cattle Egret
Thekla Lark

L to R: Crag Martins, Spotless Starlings, Cricket sp. (suggestions welcome), Sardinian Warbler, Cattle Egret, Crested or Thekla Lark, Mantis sp. (?), Whimbrel.

Monday 5 November 2007

Southern Spain

Cattle Egret
Tamara and I just got back from a week in Southern Spain and, although we spent most of the time with our toes in the sand, I managed to take a few shots. Here's a Cattle Egret for you while I put the gallery together.