Home is where my cat is

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.

How amazing is that?

The Black-headed have been back for a little while now, their numbers on the foreshore between Crabtree Wharf and Hammersmith Bridge are almost at winter level already. And there are a lot more juveniles this year than last. But what I'd really like is a Med(iterranean) Gull, so I keep on scanning. I mentioned it to Louis in Chiswick yesterday and he texted me that he had just seen one by the Eyot. By then, it was a bit too late for me to go and check, but, early this morning, instead of going to the allotment I went to search for a Med Gull.  No such luck. But, as I was scanning the gulls I noticed that one had a colour ring, so I grabbed my camera and tried a few shots.  At last, it got closer and presented the right profile: white UYC on right leg.

At home, I checked my records and realised I had seen this bird before, as I was off-patch, in Ladbroke Grove, last February.  There is a bridge over the canal, with a Sainsbury's on one side, it was on a building on the other side:

I did at the time report my sighting via the BTO website after I had no reply contacting the marker directly (as recommended). From what I gather, this bird has probably been rung in Denmark, but it's been almost 6 months now and I have not had any reply.  I shall try again with this second sighting, and we'll see how that goes...

Mystery Duck

I know it's been a long time since my last post, I pretty much haven't had the time, and once you've let it go, it can be hard to get back.  One of the things that has kept me busy is my allotment, and it's coming back from there this morning via the Thames Patch that I spotted this duck among the Mallards by Crabtree Wharf.  My first impression was "Oh, one of those weird mallards..." but after closer inspection I am not convinced.  For a start, it's smaller, about 3/4 size of a Mallard as seen on the last photo when it decided to have a go at one. Then its eyes are red, more like a Pochard than a Mallard. But it has the shimmering green of a Mallard on its neck. A hybrid of some kind?  I let you judge for yourself, and if you have any idea, feel free to comment :)

Quite cute, whatever it is, I think.

The bee and the poppy

[initially posted to plot195b.blogspot.com]
This morning at the allotment I literally saw this poppy flower open in front of my eyes and, immediately, a bumblebee came to visit, so I indulged in a short photographic break:

I believe this bee might be a Large Red-tailed Humble-bee, but I could be totally wrong...

I promise the next post will be about progress I have made on the plot...

A6LK still there and a pigeon

This week, the Herring Gull with ring A6LK was at the supermarket again.  Here it is with a friend.

I am still learning about gulls, but, somehow, it looks like a female to me, some je-ne-sais-quoi... One thing for sure, next to the other one, some of its feathers are well worn out, but it appears moulting may have started as some others appear brand new.

There was another ringed bird on the wharf today. I don't know if it was lost and was just resting, it stuck like a sore thumb among the feral pigeons and was not really interacting with them. There is a white pigeon in that flock but, even at a distance, I could tell it was different. Closer, I could see it has a green ring on one of its legs, but I couldn't read it.

I have tried to find out what breed it is, without success, but I have to say this is a pretty little thing compared to a lot of those fancy pigeons I have just had to look at during my search...

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