Sunday, 27 May 2012

Bonaparte's find!

The incinerator outflow at Cross Ness

Last weekend, Rich B found a 2cy Bonaparte's Gull at Cross Ness, London - essentially the first London record of the species. I had a busy week, and didn't get chance to head out east for the bird, so planned to do so this time out.

I met Rich at Canada Water a short while after half 7, and we headed over to Cross Ness straight away. It didn't take long to reach the incinerator outfall, where about 60-70 Black-headed Gulls were feeding. Among them, we quickly located a first-summer Bonaparte's Gull, although the apparent change in appearance from the previous weekend was vast. It had seemingly developed a partial hood in a matter of a few days - Rich had last seen it on Monday, when it still looked wintry. We tentatively 'joked' that it could be a new bird, but realistically assumed it must be the same despite the remarkable change in appearance - why would there be two Boners on the same small stretch of the Thames...?!

Well, it turns out our jokes had substance. Today, Dave Bradnum et al. located a very wintry-looking Bonaparte's just across the river at Barking Bay - the original bird! This meant that, quite sensationally, the more advanced individual we had located at the outfall on Saturday morning was indeed a second bird! In hindsight, it seemed highly unlikely that a bird would be able to moult so rapidly but, as we're talking Nearctic vagrants in East London, the one-bird theory still seemed more realistic at the time. When reviewing photographs, the bird also displayed different tail (possessing moulted central tail feathers) and tertial patterns in addition to the hood.

In other news, an adult Dark-bellied Brent Goose was also seen feeding off the outflow, and there was also a Little Egret and a 2cy Yellow-legged Gull.

Adult Dark-bellied Brent floating around on the Thames
So, two London Bonaparte's for Rich in a week, with the added bonus that it also finds its way on to my self-found list to boot... happy days. More photographs and details on the birds can be found on Rich's blog.

Monday, 21 May 2012

Cream-coloured Courser

Spring is back with a bang! This must be one of the most outrageous records of the 21st century - a spring adult Cream-coloured Courser atop Bradnor Hill, in rural Herefordshire. Found late during the evening of 20th, news was broadcast at 22:45 and I was on site with Ash Howe, Dan Pointon and just eight others for 04:00. Didn't take long to find the bird preening amongst bracken on the north side of the eighth fairway, just as the light was improving at c.04:40 - pic 1 sums up initial views. I called everyone over and we watched the bird - almost continuously in view and as close as 20 metres away - for the next two hours. Will remember this one for a long time, not least for the fact that many didn't even hear about it until they woke up this morning, by which time we'd already left the site!!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Early Purple Orchids


Over the Bank Holiday weekend, I visited my father in South Wales. He is fortunate to live overlooking the delightful Kenfig NNR and, although birding can be tough at times here, it sure is a great place to see orchids. With next to nothing exciting around bird-wise, I spent plenty of time photographing Early Purple Orchids. I also saw Green-winged Orchid although, at the time, did not realise it was a different species(!) and didn't bother photographing them.