Tuesday 26 February 2008

The house that Paul built...

Put the bird house up Paul had made me (house and builder pictured).

Blue tits show interest by peering in through hole.

They're in!

Monday 25 February 2008

Turnstone and Med Gull from Sunday

Sunday 24 February 2008

Black-throated Diver, Southend Pier

After many failed attempts at digiscoping this bird on Friday Matt and I went back down the pier to have another crack at it. Five hundred shots and many dives later this is about the best I could do. Nice bird though and a lifer for us both, high five!

The Purple Sandpipers, however, showed well enough to offer solace to an oil painter.

Friday 22 February 2008

Westcliff-on-sea and Southend Pier

Ring-billed Gull, Westcliff-on-sea
'Rossi' the Ring-billed Gull, Westcliff seafront

Purple SandpiperCommon Seal1st Winter Mediterranean GullPurple Sandpiper, young Common Seal, 1st winter Mediterranean Gull, Southend Pier.

Other birds of note today were a Red-throated Diver and my first Black-throated Diver.

Wednesday 20 February 2008

Gull School

I'm really enjoying the challenge of young gull identification at the moment and over the past two mornings I've had a good subject to practice on. Now, this is obviously up for discussion but, I belive the first picture below is of a first winter Great Black-backed Gull (on Hyde Park's Serpentine) and not a Lesser Black-backed Gull. I managed to compare its size with a first winter Herring Gull yesterday and although the difference wasn't as distinctive as I've seen between adult (and possibly male) birds it was clearly a size up and bulkier. Also when seen out of the water it showed pretty long legs with lots of tibia on show, a heavy chest and the bill is heavy with a pale tip. The only things that really put me in any doubt is the lack of any extensive white tips to the tertials. Could this be down to worn plumage late in the moult cycle? So much to learn!

1st Winter Great Black-backed Gull?

I also took a shot of this pair of Lesser Black-backed gulls because they illustrated a nice size comparison between the sexes.

Pair of Lesser Black-backed Gull (female left, male right)

Saturday 16 February 2008

Black-headed Gull (ringed 7Y7)

This bird has been flying back and forth between London and Copenhagen for the past fourteen years. It was originally ringed in 1993 as a first winter bird on Kensington Garden's Round Pond (where I saw it today) and obtained its second, white '7Y7' ring in Damhussoen, Copehnagen in June, 1996.

Other birds of note today were a vocal Nuthatch near the Kensington Gardens bandstand, a Redwing near Kensington Palace, Treecreeper, three Coal Tit, Goldcrest, thirteen Dunnock (my highest count here), and four Green Woodpeckers among others.

Sunday 10 February 2008

Wallcreepers, Paddington

Not really! My local band of Goldfinches quite often scale the neighbouring walls though. I'm not sure what they're eating up there but this morning the moss proved more enticing than my feeders.

Tuesday 5 February 2008

Sri Lanka, January 2008

Dad (and Katie) just returned from Sri Lanka. Click here to read his illustrated trip report.

Monday 4 February 2008

Siskins, Kensington Gardens

There were eight or so Siskins in and around the Buck Hill Alders this morning.

Sunday 3 February 2008

Great Black-backed Gulls, Hyde Park

Great Black-backed Gull, Hyde Park
I've only seen one GBBG on The Serpentine before and that was a sub-adult bird pointed out to me. Today I was lucky enough to see a fully grown beast for ten minutes before it flew south-west, presumably back to the River Thames. During its stay it was also joined by a first winter bird (both pictured here). That was a new one for my patch year list.

A few minutes later I ran into, what now seems likely to be a wintering bird (?), a smart adult Yellow-leged Gull in the same spot as seen twice before (Fisherman's Keep: PDF file).

Wintering Ducks, Paglesham Lagoon

Female Long-tailed Duck (click to enlarge)

Male Scaup (With Gadwall)

Long-tailed Duck

We've been aware of these two wintering wildfowl on Paglesham Lagoon in Essex for some time and finally went to have a look for ourselves yesterday. A beautiful female Long-tailed Duck and a male Scaup were both well-wanted additions to everyones' lists.