Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Brascote Comes Back to Life

It has been a while since Brascote has made the local birding headlines, but a couple of Ring Ouzels and a pair of Garganey have got it back on the map.

The Ring Ouzels first appeared on Sunday and are still present this evening. The field they are frequenting has had work done on it to drain it, so it is pleasing that it is still attracting birds despite being dryer than in the past. Tonight as well as the Ring Ouzels, six Wheatears were also in the field. Also a male White Wagtail was in the same field as the Ring Ouzels on Sunday night. 

A pair of Garganey arrived today and stayed long enough for me to finish work and see them. This is only the second record in SW Leicestershire since two were seen by George Downes at Huncote Sandpit back in 1976. I have long suspected that Brascote could host this species.

I am working on updating the SW Leics list and will post an updated version soon. We are still waiting for the 200th species for the area having been stuck on 199 for quite a while now.

Drake Garganey, Brascote Pits 14/04/15
Male and Female Garganey, Brascote Pits 14/04/15

Wednesday, 1 April 2015

Shawell Update

Things haven't been well at Shawell lately despite finding a juvenile Iceland Gull and several Med Gulls during March. For some reason the number of gulls using the site has been lower than expected. Saturdays have been rubbish (no pun intended) during the last few weeks and last Saturday I gave up at dinner time.

Maybe the gulls that wintered in the area have already moved on and the ones that migrated south are yet to arrive? Maybe the lack of food waste going into landfill is starting to have an effect? Maybe the Common Buzzard that keeps launching low flying attacks on the gulls isn't helping?

I called in this afternoon for ten minutes and there were more gulls than I'd seen throughout March on the lagoons. Maybe I should stop trying to second guess whats going on. Anyway there was a couple of Yellow-legged Gulls amongst the Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls, which may be a result of a bit of northward migration. Both the Yellow-legged Gulls were youngsters, so I guess they followed the Lesser Black-backed Gulls north?

Second Calendar-Year Yellow-legged Gull

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Another Med Gull at Shawell

My dinner time stop off at Shawell on Wednesday was good again this week. Amongst about a thousand Black-headed Gulls was another new adult Mediterranean Gull. 

My sightings of Mediterranean Gulls at Shawell So far in 2015:

·         Adult, near full summer plumage, February 17th (un-ringed)
·      Adult, near full summer-plumage, February 25th (Polish colour-ring)
·      Adult, near full summer-plumage, March 14th (un-ringed)
·      Second-winter, March 14th
·      Adult, full summer-plumage, March 18th (Polish colour-ring, different to one on February 25th)

Mediterranean Gull at Shawell A5 Lagoons, 18/03/15

Saturday, 14 March 2015

Iceland and Mediterranean Gulls

Today was a funny one as far as the gulls at Shawell are concerned. I called at the landfill site first thing, but it was deserted. No gulls and no rubbish trucks. It would appear that they are capping the area that has been used recently. This usually results in a lack of gulls as they drift off elsewhere in search of a meal.

At the lagoons by the A5 there was actually a reasonable collection of gulls, although not as many as normal. I scanned through the gulls on the far shore and quickly came upon a sleeping 'white-winged gull' It was clearly a juvenile Iceland Gull, but one that was shy, as it didn't want to lift its head up. I eventually got a photo showing its head to confirm it was an Iceland Gull. 

Juvenile Iceland Gull, Shawell A5 Lagoons

Juvenile Iceland Gull, Shawell A5 Lagoons

It wasn't long before the gulls got disturbed by some invisible foe and most of them flew away northwards. Many of the smaller gulls quickly returned and amongst them was an adult Mediterranean Gull. Later on I spotted a different Mediterranean Gull. This one was a sub-adult with only a very small dark patch on just one primary feather - the rest of the primaries were white like an adult.

Adult Mediterranean Gull, Shawell A5 Lagoons

Weekdays are often better for seeing large numbers of gulls at Shawell and during my brief Wednesday lunchtime session I spotted a smart looking first-winter Caspian Gull. I managed to get a bit of video of it feeding amongst the rubbish. It was quite a pale one, which is quite common at this time of year. The mantle was very silvery grey.

First-winter Caspian Gull, Cotesbach Landfill Site