Tuesday, 26 April 2016


The sound of a Raven calling is less of a surprise when heard in Leicestershire than it used to be, but it is still great to hear. Its a sound that carries down the ages and reminds us of a wilder past.

I am lucky enough to hear them most days and luckier still to be able to get close to them. A pair have again nested on a large cliff face that I can gain access to.

The young Ravens are almost old enough to take flight and survey the world as only Ravens can. I took the opportunity to take some photographs this morning. I had seen four beaks poking up in the nest last week, but if you look closely at the photo below there is actually five of them.

Sunday, 24 April 2016

Ring Ouzel at Burbage Outwoods

One of the male Ring Ouzels was still present at The Outwoods today. Two males were originally found there by Adey Baker on April 8th, but just one of the males was still there today (24th). That is a stay so far of 17 days.

The bird is still favouring the second field after the riding stables and it shows by the safety fences in the far corner.

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Back to Shawell

There was nothing else to do but to head back to Shawell today after my excursion to Germany last weekend to learn my about my beloved Caspian Gulls.

The first-summer Caspian Gull that I first found on April 2nd was still around and a new first-summer was also there today.

There was still about a 1000 gulls at the landfill site this morning - mostly Lesser Black-backed Gulls. Amongst the Lesser Black-backed Gulls were some Norwegian ringed birds.

Wednesday, 20 April 2016

International Gull Meeting Report

The IGM was held at Bad Duben in Brandenburg, Germany. I joined Peter Rock from Bristol at Heathrow and we took an early morning flight to Munich and from there we continued on to Leipzig.

Over the three days we enjoyed some excellent talks and had a day in the field watching the gulls of the area.

At the first site, Muhlberg-See, we enjoyed good but distant views of a mixed gull colony. Just to give the identification enthusiasts, me included, a headache we watched a pair of gulls copulating and they weren't of the same species. The colony didn't appear to be doing too well and the appearance of a Fox on the island perhaps explained why.

After enjoying the gulls, a Ring Ouzel and lots of kites we moved on to Grabendorfer-See. Here a large colony of mixed gull species could be seen, but again distantly. With the aid of a remote camera we got views of the gulls on a large screen in the information centre. We even managed to read a colour-ring using the camera.

The next site, Sedlitz-See, offered us a much better chance to see the gulls. We took to the water at this site in an odd shaped boat. It was raining hard by this time, but we managed to sink a few beers on the way out to the islands. The lucky ones managed to get under cover.

To see a collection of my gull photos CLICK HERE for my Flickr Gallery

As we neared the islands we could see the gulls and we soon lured them to us with a few loaves of bread. I managed to take loads of images and most were identifiable as Caspian Gulls. I wasn't quite prepared for how massive some of the male Casps were and their bills were very brightly coloured. That may have something to do with the iron oxide in the water?

The gull below is very interesting, its wings are far plainer than I would expect, but I am told by my friends in Europe that it is within the known variation.

As I said, the adult Caspian Gulls were real beasts. It has made me think that maybe the females are the wanderers, as I don't see many that measure up to the large males.

Photo by Klaus Hein
The IGM Team (photo by Ronald Klien)
It was a great trip, which gave me the chance to meet some of the guys that I communicate with on a regular basis.

Thanks to Ronald Klien for organising the event.

Friday, 15 April 2016

International Gull Meeting

Image by Hans Larsson
By the time you read this I should already be enjoying the site of Caspian Gulls doing their long call. I am off to the International Gull Meeting in Saxony this weekend.

I'm most looking forward to the field day and getting some proper images of Caspian Gulls. This opportunity to study a mixed Caspian and Herring Gull breeding colony will hopefully allow me to make better sense of some of the gulls that make my head hurt at Shawell.

The trip will also give me the opportunity to meet up with some of the ringers who I communicate with regularly and also meet a few celebrity gull watchers.


Arrived safely in Bad Düben. Had lots of beer, met some really great people and in between beers we've seen some gulls. This is a nasty place for gulls and you must brace yourselves for some very scary pictures! 

Too be continued...