nathalie's blog

2 for the price of 1

Like I do every week when I go to the supermarket, especially at high tide, I checked for rings on gulls' legs. In particular, I was hoping to see the semi-regular one, white A6LK, which I had last seen on 8th December. And bingo! at the end of the scan, when I thought all hope was gone, there it was:

I proceeded to take a few more photos, including this one. I am not entirely sure what is so attractive about this bush but a few gulls went and ate a few leaves off it.

Then on the panel with a few others (there was an exceptionally high number of them that day):

If you look closely at the one ready to land, you can glimpse an orange ring, and there it is, obvious once the bird had landed.

For once, the ring was very easy to read: YW3.T. I got the info back overnight: this Herring Gull was ringed at Pitsea Landfill site in November and mine was the first reading since. Map here.

Is that profile good for you?

I'm hoping that, like A6LK, it'll stick around and I can follow its progress from time to time.

Winter Thrushes

Yes, I know, it's been a very long time since my last post. Not the best of months those past few ones... So I'm going to try and do a few catch-up posts.
We've never had this winter the numbers of Redwings we had the previous one. I think the most I've seen at once were 30-35, twice, around the new year, whereas we had over 50 well into March last year. And since mid-January we've had about 3 knocking about, feeding on the ground since all the berries were gone a long time ago. Being so few, they are a lot trickier to find...

Not the best of photos, that bird was way too fast and this was the only passable one I managed, but I like how the light is making its legs look almost translucent 

The bonus this year has been a pair of Mistle Thrush since mid January. Mistle Thrushes usually only pass by, are harassed by the local Jays and Magpies, and move on. But, this time, one month on, they're still here, usually to be found together in the same area.  I have seen behaviour that looked like courtship once and another time it looked like they might be building a nest. So I'm crossing all I can, it would be a first...

I never thought of Redwings as being particularly small but this one really does next to a Mistle Thrush...

I am giving flickr a try for my photos, you can see a few more of these birds here.

2 hours by the Thames

I went for a walk by the Thames between 10 & 12 this morning. I estimated this would be optimal for the tide, it was going down and started to reveal the foreshore which tends to be when the birds are at their most active. It wasn't however the ducks and waders feast I had been hoping for. None of the Starlings, Crows or Gulls materialised into something more important, but nevermind ;) I discovered that the part of Thames Path which had been closed earlier this year was finally reopened, and in time too! Brilliant, no more walking through the back streets and losing sight of the birds on the foreshore!
I saw:

  • Black-headed Gulls: about 150. Including the Finnish CC1H ringed one in almost the exact same spot (about 2m away)
  • Herring Gull: 4, including a pair in courtship display - I really thought they were starting to create a nest on the shore at some point. Weird at this time of year I would have thought...
  • Lesser Black-backed Gull: 1 family with 2 begging juveniles, and at least 2 more adults and 2 juveniles
  • Common Gull: 1
  • Mallard: 46
  • Tufted Duck: 10, including the female and 2 youngsters I have seen every time of late
  • Mute Swan: 1
  • Grey Heron: 1
  • Cormorant: 21, most of them on the wharf, but a few fishing (when not disturbed by passing boats)
  • Grey Wagtail: 1
  • Starlings: a flock of about 50 flitting between the shore and the bridge
  • Canada Goose: 4, including the usual Greylag hybrid
  • Ring-necked Parakeet: 6 on Hammersmith Bridge. I don't recall seeing them on the bridge before, it almost look like they were trying to dislodge some of the pigeons...
  • and the Egyptian Goose family :)

Initially, I only had one of the youngsters by the bridge, on its lonesome, going up and down, calling for the rest of the family.  Then, much later on, I had the rest of the family.

The ringed 'normal coloured' adult. I am still trying to get the first 2 digits, but either the angle is wrong, or there's mud on the ring... I'll get there one day, I hope.

The rest of the family, with the pale adult and the other 3 youngsters. 2 of them have pretty much reached adult size and feathering, but the 'little one' at the back is still playing catch-up.
A view from above.


You can see here how far behind it is compared to its sibling, still all fluffed up on its beck and back...
 There you can see pretty well the lump on its lower beak which has been visible since it is was a small gosling.  I am no expert, but my theory is that it's a thyroid problem.  If you have another idea, I'd welcome your thoughts.

White CC1H

A quick update on one of the colour ringed gulls from my previous post, white CC1H. It was ringed in Finland, as an adult, in 2000, making it at least 10 years old. Not much of a wonder the ring was in the state it was...

My name is Nathalie and I'm addicted to reading bird rings

My apologies... Another post mostly about colour-ringed gulls...

I was doing my patch walk by the Thames yesterday as I often do on a Saturday morning and getting increasingly annoyed by 2 guys in kayaks. I'll give them the benefit of the doubt, but they kept on getting close to shore or alighting at the pier and pontoon. It was close to high tide and then birds have very little space to go to, which is good for me if I want to check for rings, but not that good as a lot of the birds just bugger off to the Wetland Centre. I had just got to Crabtree Wharf before them and had (thankfully) just finished counting the cormorants there (21) when one of the kayaks decided to hold onto the Wharf and all the cormorants and most of the gulls flew away. Nearly all the cormorants ended up going to the Wetland Centre, the gulls landed on the river but some came back. I locked onto a preening Black-headed Gull with a red ring. I didn't even need to check my notes this time to know I had already seen it as it has a pretty memorable code: A1 :)

I saw this gull in pretty much the same spot on 22 September 2009 and had a reply the same day form the ringer, Frank Majoor, that the bird had "been ringed as a first winter bird in November 2006 in Hilversum, a town in the Netherlands, some 30 km south-east of Amsterdam and 25 km north of Utrecht, according to Wikipedia". This makes it a 4 year old bird.

While I was taking photos, a 'friend' arrived saying "See, I've got a ring too!" and, yes, it had... Slightly broken, but still legible, and not one I had seen before: white CC1H. Checking the colour-ringing site told me afterwards that this bird should be from Finland. I have reported it, I'll blog the result if and when I get it.

Then I noticed that there was 1 Cormorant left and recognised it immediately. Unfortunately not because it had a ring but because it has some netting around its neck. I saw it a few times last year around October and November but had not seen it since and was beginning to wonder.

If you compare the photos with last year's you can see the netting is pretty much unchanged, that's sturdy stuff :(

Doesn't look too comfortable swallowing...

More photos of the gulls, as well as 2 oldish Tufted Ducklings, the first I have seen on the river, in my gallery.

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