Thursday, 27 July 2017

Yellow-legged Gulls (27 July) and other colour-ringed gulls on the Adur

Thursday 27 July. Megan was away and I was looking after Cookie for a couple of days and so switched Thursday when normally working for Friday when not. It didn't seem a particularly good idea at Shoreham Harbour where no interesting gulls and only a single Gannet offshore. A Common Sandpiper flying around the harbour and a Sanderling west were something but looking along to Widewater the few gulls on the beach were greatly outnumbered by dogs. We moved straight to the Adur by Shoreham Airport as the tide was low. Another Common Sandpiper and a Whimbrel were my first of the autumn and amongst the mainly Herring Gulls were two juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls. Neither were the bird(s) seen at Shoreham Harbour and Widewater Beach yesterday, one wearing a yellow colour-ring from a German or perhaps Swiss scheme. It is the first colour-ringed Yellow-legged Gull I've seen and takes my Adur total of colour-ringed gulls seen between the railway bridge and A27 fly-over to 136. The others are 80 Herring, 33 Great Black-backs, 8 Lesser Black-backs, 5 each of Mediterranean and Common, 3 Black-headed and star of the show a single Caspian (examples follow).
Yellow-legged Gull HD429 on the Adur 27 July 2017

River Adur looking south to the railway bridge. Gulls usually roost on the sandbar when it is exposed at low tide, unless bait diggers are present. Windy days and afternoons are generally best.
Examples of previous colour-ringed gulls on the Adur:
Black-headed Gull 2DL on 04 March 2017. From a Danish scheme (one of the rare ones not to reply when details of the bird were sent) 
German Common Gull A17H on 26 February 2017. Ringed as 3CY on the North Frisian Island of Anrum in July 2011 and seen there in June 2012.
Great Black-backed Gull JE486 late on 21 November 2010. Ringed as pullus in Vest-Agder, Norway in June 2009, seen in Vest-Agder in July and August 2009, at Dungeness in March 2010 and Rustington in May 2010. Later it was seen at Arlington Reservir in October 2011, Buskerud, Norway in April 2012 and back in Vest-Agder in July 2013.
North Thames Herring Gull J0LT on 05 December 2015. Almost 25% of the colour-ringed birds seen on the Adur are from this scheme. This one was ringed as a 3CY or older at Pitsea Tip in Essex in December 2014 before I saw it  on the Adur several times the following winter. I've seen a few Channel hoppers so this is pretty dull in comparison but it has the best ring number - they should have saved it for a Caspian though.
Lesser Black-backed Gull 9H3 on 30 June 2012. Ringed as four years or older female at Chouet Landfill, Guernsey in May 2011 and seen on Alderney two months later.
Mediterranean Gull 36A2 on 08 October 2011. It was ringed as pullus in Zuid-Holland, Netherlands in June 2003, seen in German in May/June 2010 and the Weymouth area in July, August and October 2010.

Caspian Gull XNEK on 05 October 2014. It had been ringed in SE Germany that June (see for more details)
colour-rings not so easy to read when birds are standing in water
certainly my star CR bird to date
The very next day I returned to the Adur looking for the Caspian Gull but it wasn't seen again. Instead I saw the one bird I really do wish had a ring on it:
Lesser Black-backed Gull on 06 October 2014. I suspected it might be Baltic but you can't do much without a ring (see Ironically two juvenile Lesser Black-backs were also present and both had rings (one from Suffolk and the other, presumably, Denmark - but another no response) 

Wednesday, 26 July 2017

Yellow-legged Gull at Shoreham (26 July)

Wednesday 26 July. I took Cookie down to Shoreham Harbour where a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull was sitting on the very end of the West Arm with a few young Herring Gulls and a Great Black-back. It was my first of the summer and most welcome, although hardly surprsing with gull enthusiasts having seen juveniles recently at Eastbourne, Beachy, Newhaven and even Selsey. I tried some phone scoped photos most of which were dreadful but a few come out after a fashion. I had a bit more success digiscoping with a pocket camera and even better walking up and using my Bridge Camera although I didn't get the flight shots I had hoped for. Also seen were 2 Oystercatchers and 2 Sandwich Terns. We went on to Widewater where the Mute Swan family (2 adults and 4 full-sized cygnets) were on the lagoon. By now it was raining but it was low tide so we walked back along the exposed sand. Here the Yellow-legged Gull, or another very similar looking individual, was stabbing at a washed up eel. It flew off at our approach but settled further down the beach although photos were poor looking directly into the rain. A brief stop at the Adur produced no waders and 100+ mainly adult Herring Gulls. It was then time to visit the Post Office and the dentist ...
Yellow-legged Gull at Shoreham Harbour, one of my better (more fluky) attempts at phone scoping

shows the elongated rear, small head, darkish mask and mean-looking bill
nice white edges to mantle feathers, coverts and tertials
digiscoped image with juvenile Great Black-backed Gull for comparison
moving closer with the Bridge Camera, juvenile Herring Gull for comparison


Yellow-legged Gull at Widewater in the rain
if it wasn't the same bird it looked very similar
it appears less contrasting due to the film of water on my camera lens!
dead eel washed up on Widewater Beach. The Yellow-legged Gull was pecking at it but despite its heavy bill it wasn't making much of an impression
Tuesday 25 July. No sign of any Great Black-backed Gulls on the roofs but 2 adults and at least 2 youngsters were flying over Middle Road when I cycled off to work.

Monday 24 July. A pair of Mute Swans with three cygnets were by the lock-gates when I came home from work. The Great Black-backed Gull family appears to have left the roofs behind our house with none seen before or after work. Just one Swift over the garden although I only looked a couple of times.

Sunday, 23 July 2017

Crowlink and Belle Tout (23 July)

Sunday 23 July. Megan and I took Cookie for a walk from Crowlink to Belle Tout. It is a nice circuit with the potential for something interesting although that is unlikely in July. And so it seemed this time until a Cuckoo flew out from bushes by the lower path just east of Belle Tout. It landed in a tree half way up to the lighthouse, sat for long enough for me to reach for my camera but not to find it in the viewfinder. My first at Beachy since August 2014 and according to LP only the second this season. Otherwise it was very quiet, our not arriving much before 09:00 probably not helping. I saw single Little Egret, Peregrine, Swallow and Corn Bunting, 6 Meadow Pipits, 7 Stonechats and 2 Ravens. The Great Black-backed Gull family were still present, the youngsters not having moved from their new roof. 
Raven along the cliff edge
Megan and Cookie
Saturday 22 July. I took Cookie on a two hour circuit from Lancing Ring to Cowbottom, Coombes and Steep Down. Nice weather and views but rather quiet for birds. I saw Sparrowhawk, 85 Swifts, Green Woodpecker, 10 Sky Larks, 45 Swallows, 20 House Martins, Meadow Pipit, 6 Whitethroats and 16 Corn Buntings. The Great Black-backed Gull family were still present, the youngsters after last evenings trials had moved onto the roof to the south - crossing a gap of about three feet! Seven Swifts over the house.
juvenile Swallow at Cowbottom

Cissbury from Steep Down
Corn Bunting on Steep Down 

Truleigh Hill from Steep Down
Great Black-backed Gulls having moved roof
Friday 21 July. Megan and I took Cookie to Chantry Hill and we walked along the South Downs Way to Rackham Hill and back. Seven Yellowhammers were sinning and we saw single Red Kite, Swift and Raven. Later a Hobby flew west over the Adur while it was an otherwise typica visit - two Little Egrets, two Oystercatchers and under 100 mainly Herring and Black-headed Gulls. Ahead of a storm in the evening a flock of at least 70 Swifts were over the house, I often think they are at thier brilliant best in rough weather. Almost until dark the three young Great Black-backed Gulls were distracting my TV viewing with much jumping and flapping on the apex of their roof pretty much in my line of sight. One managed to stay airborn fror 3-4 seconds while it or another 'flew' 3-4 metres.

view north from Rackham Hill
Yellowhammer singing its head off

holiday traffic adding to congestion around the A27 flyover
Thursday 20 July. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof with bouts of jumping and flapping in the evening. I've not seen both adults on the roof together for a while now although one is usually there or thereabouts. Just one Swift was seen overhead.

Wednesday 19 July. I visited Pulborough seeing 4 Green and a Common Sandpiper on the North Brooks - not something it is easy to do with Cookie. A few small birds on the heathland included 1-2 adult Spotted Flycatchers with 2 juveniles, 2 Nuthatches and 3 Treecreepers. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof although the night's storm appeared to have dislodged some if the sticks from their abandoned nest.
young Green Woodpecker at Pulborough
Great Black-backed Gull playing with sticks, presumably from their nest


Tuesday 18 July. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof, usually with one adult keep an eye on them from the next roof over. Seven Swifts over the road in the evening.

Monday 17 July.  A Peregrine flew behind Southwick Power Station as I was cycling home form work. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof, pestering an adult when it came in with food. Fifteen Swifts over the road in the evening.

Sunday 16 July. I took Cookie fromn Cuckoo's Corner up to Dace Gardens and back. Birds seen included Sparrowhawk, 2 Common Sandpipers on the river, 100+ Swifts, 45 Swallows, 6 House Martins, 2 Sedge Warblers (2 Reeds were also heard) and 7 Reed Buntings. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof with an adult nearby. Seventeen Swifts over the house in the evening.
Common Sandpiper at Dacre Gardens

Cookie drinking from a puddle

Kestrel near Cuckoo's Corner
Reed Bunting with grasshopper
Saturday 15 July. I took Cookie up to Mill Hill seeing single Swift, Whitethroat and Blackcap and 4 Sky Larks. Later 3 Little Egrets and a Redshank were on the Adur along with a few Herring and Black-headed Gulls while 2 Greenfinches were the most notable birds along Southwick Canal. The three young Great Black-backed Gulls were still on their roof with an adult nearby. Twelve Swifts over the garden in the evening.
Lancing Ring and Steep Down from Mill Hill
juvenile Herring Gull on the Adur, any hopes it might be a Yellow-legged were deflated by its tertials

two of the Great Black-backed Gulls on their roof