Saturday, 27 August 2016

Croft Hill and Shawell

I started off this morning with a walk on Croft Hill. I was hoping to find a few migrants. The light was poor, but a few birds were moving about. A pipit flew out of the trees landing briefly n the hawthorn hedge. It looked like a Tree Pipit. Hastily captured pictures, though blurred, showed very fine streaking on its flanks, a white belly and a nicely marked supercilium. This is not the first Tree Pipit I've seen in this part of the wooded area. It reappeared on the flycatcher tree a little while later. Chiffchaffs were flitting about everywhere and at least four Spotted Flycatchers sat low in the hedge. Alas no Redstart - maybe tomorrow?

Spotted Flycatcher, Croft Hill, August 27th 2016
Soon Shawell beckoned. My early evening visits this week had been really successful. I had already read over fifty colour rings this week, so the omens were good for today. At least 4500 Lesser Black-backed Gulls were there - my best count since I started visiting regularly in 2012. Amongst them are many intermedius types. I have read 17 Norwegian colour-rings this week. Two of them were juvenile intermedius.

I read 25 colour rings today giving a total for the week of 77.

The Polish ringed Caspian Gull PKXS was amongst the hordes of gulls and the second-summer I saw on the 17th & 18th August was still about today.

PKXS was ringed as a chick in southern Poland on 25th May 2012. There have been previous sightings of this gull in Norfolk, Didcot and at Albion landfill site. The sighting at Albion landfill site was made by Steve Lister. PKXS is a small female Caspian Gull.

Polish Ringed Caspian Gull, PKXS, Shawell A5 Lagoons, August 27th 2016
Second-Summer Caspian Gull, August 27th 2016
The second-summer looks short legged in the photo, but I think some of that is a photographic illusion, as they looked OK through my scope.  It is replacing its longest primaries so it looks short winged.

Thursday, 25 August 2016

Colour Ringed Caspian Gulls at Shawell

I was over at Shawell last night and thousands of gulls were sheltering in the quarry from the strong wind that had built up. The viewing conditions are very good at present and I have read 53 colour rings in two early evening visits this week. Many intermedius Lesser Black-backed Gulls are there at present. I have read 10 Norwegian colour-rings so far this week.

Last night I spotted the regular third-summer Caspian Gull green colour-ring XNDJ and a new Polish one yellow PKXS (awaiting details).

The new Caspian Gull pitched down on the very end of the gull flock which made things easy. However, I didn't have long to view it, as one of the dumper truck drivers on overtime drove straight through the flock!

The photos below are poor quality screen grabs from the videos I made.

Adult or near-Adult Caspian Gull (PKXS), Shawell Quarry, (no general access) August 24th 2016

Third-Summer Caspian Gull (XNDJ), Shawell Quarry, (no general access) August 24th 2016


Tuesday, 23 August 2016

Gannet at Thornton Reservoir

It was too late to go for the Gannet at Thornton Reservoir when I noticed the bird news on Sunday night. It then appeared to be on its last legs last night, but tonight it was reported to be flying about.

After tea Dawn, Georgina and I took a leisurely drive over to Thornton. The ladies walked away from the car park and then rushed back to tell me they had seen it and it was flying. I had visions of it flying away high to the west and me not getting to see it. No fear it was soon back down on the water. Hopefully it will regain its strength and get away although it may need to feed first. It flew around several times whilst we were there.

Gannet, Thornton Reservoir, August 23rd 2016

Sunday, 21 August 2016

Up on the Hill

Adey Baker and I were hoping that the rough weather might have forced a few birds to take shelter on Croft Hill.

The small woodland area on the hill can attract migrants and a singing Willow Warbler raised our spirits as we climbed the entrance stile. We walked uphill following the edge of the wood and then descended the hill on the other side. A handy viewpoint gave us views of the heart of the wood and we could see that a few birds were sheltering from the wind. A couple of Spotted Flycatchers perched on some exposed branches, but wait a minute isn't that one a Pied Flycatcher? A female/first-winter Pied shared the shelter with three Spotted Flycatchers. Chiffchaffs chased each other around and a smart Lesser Whitethroat vied for our attention. A large warbler refused to show itself well enough to be identified, but that just added to the excitement.

Overhead a group of Swifts were heading for their winter quarters, but they paused to feed over the hill. House Martins were travelling with them, but their arrival hadn't gone un-noticed. An adult Hobby seared the air as it tried hard to catch one of the hirundines. The Hobby was only in view for precious seconds but Adey and I had had our breathe taken away by it - what a bird!

Adult Hobby, Croft Hill, August 21st 2016



Saturday, 20 August 2016

A Blustery Day at Shawell

On arrival this morning I noticed that something was missing - the gulls. The wind was howling and gulls love to fly when its windy. Eventually a swarm was visible above the distant tip.

On Thursday evening there was around 4000 Lesser Black-backed Gulls in the area, but the wind had obviously dispersed many of them today.

In the end I saw some good gulls, but the wind kept them moving about.

At the lagoons the gulls just couldn't settle, but it wasn't the fox family today it was the gusting wind. An adult female Caspian Gull came in with one of the flocks, but only stayed a short while. When she took off I noticed she was wearing a yellow colour-ring. Was this the small female Caspian Gull I saw last July? That one had a yellow colour-ring as well. I will get to read the inscription on the ring one of these days!

Adult Female Caspian Gull, Shawell A5 Lagoons, August 20th 2016

A second-summer Mediterranean Gull arrived at the lagoons and promptly flew off two minutes later. This is only my 16th sighting of this species at the site since I started my regular visits in 2012. It was almost adult like, but black marking were just visible on the growing primaries. It could be a first-summer moulting into second-winter plumage, but the black markings were very restricted on the almost all white primaries.

Mediterranean Gull, Shawell A5 Lagoons, August 20th 2106

Possibly eight different  juvenile/first-winter Yellow-legged Gulls put in appearances at the lagoons today, which is a good number. I'm sure I recognised some of them from Draycote Water.

Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, Shawell A5 Lagoons, August 20th 2016