Wednesday, 15 January 2014

Fabulous Fabalis!

Just a quick post where hopefully the pictures will do the talking. A pair of Taiga bean geese have been present for several days at Cambridge Research Park and were found by David & Jonathan Heath who regularly visit the site. They turned up with a pink-foot and sometimes, but not always, associate with the several hundred-strong greylag flock. Unlike most other Taiga beans I’ve seen they can be observed at fairly close range from the hide (50-60m when on the island). There's no reason to suggest they are anything other than wild birds

Also included below is a shot I got a few years back of the two forms of bean goose which occur here – not a great picture but in my experience it’s rare to see them together in the wild.

2 Taiga (far left sitting) and 4 Tundra bean geese, Lackford, Suffolk


Friday, 10 January 2014

Milton Gull Fest!

Yes, more gulls.

Milton Tip became a bit of a local patch for me last winter. I visited once a week throughout the winter and bar my first and last visit, I had Caspian gulls every time (not to mention a couple of glaucs). My best day count was five (a photo I had of a 1st winter was even 'bombed' by another as I found out only when I checked my pics later) but a multi-observer count around the same time yielded a minimum of 9 birds. The only count I know of in the UK higher than this is a recent one of 11 made at Dungeness.

I don't think last winter was a one-off though. Caspians are back in force in similar numbers this year and the white-wingers are here too. I saw evidence of this today on a three hour visit this afternoon when I had NINE species in and around the tip - juvvy Iceland & glaucous and a minimum of 4 Caspian gulls. Comparing notes with other observers there were at least 7 of the latter present. (edit: 2x 3rd winters seen the following day by other obs brings the weekend minimum to 9 individuals, with 2x 2nd winters present on the Monday boosting this to a whopping 11+).

My only other birding outing recently was a trip to the Brecks for the crossbills - no sign of the parrots but even here, gulls turned out to be the highlight. A small flock of about 150 lured me off the A11 and they included a brutish and classic 1st winter Caspian.

Caspian gull, Brecks - large bird, probably a male

1st winter Caspian gull (centre with 3rd w herring) - a dark-billed individual
1st winter glaucous gull

Another good-sized 1st winter Caspian (second from right at the top of the bank) and an adult michahellis below and to the right