Home is where my cat is

A gull with a bone to pick

At the supermarket yesterday I was taking photos of a Common Gull hoping to read its metal ring (unfortunately it was presenting the closure part) when I noticed the Herring Gull YW3T from last week.

I then noticed a Common Gull had found itself a (chicken?) bone to nibble on but it turned out I wasn't the only one to have noticed:

Where is my bone?

A pair of Greylags followed by 3 others flying over the Thames were the surprise visitors at the supermarket yesterday, as well as a pair of Coots, which I rarely see there.
Numbers of Black-headed Gulls have continued to dwindle with only 70 of them on the wharf at high tide and I am looking forward to concentrate my attention to these little guys once they're gone:

They've started being very active and vocal again. One male was calling under the eaves of one of the apartment blocks, a new site for this year as far as I am aware.

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...

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