26 February 2011

Caspo on the Flats

Today was a good day to say the least. After some filthy twitchery not involving Wanstead one little bit, I hit the Old Sewage Works early afternoon. After some hard listening I managed to locate a Bullfinch in the large hedge, but it flew out the back before I could see if it was male or female. Also present were a couple of Dunnock, several Greenfinches, a Song Thrush and a Chaffinch. Leaving the area, I noticed a bird loosely associating with four Goldfinch in the weedy bit, and was delighted to find a male Reed Bunting. I do not normally get excited by Reed Buntings, but if memory served (and it did) I had never seen one in the Park before. Guaranteed on the Flats, where they breed either side of Centre Road, but a new bird for the Park. For me at least - perhaps they are regular? The Old Sewage Works is the most likely place I suppose, but nonetheless very pleasing.

But the foray was to get better, as on the way back I stopped on the Flats to see if I could locate the Med Gull that was still around. I couldn't, but on scanning a close group of Gulls, what I had first taken to be a Herring Gull from the road began to scream Caspian at me. In my own head, I've come close to Caspian here several times before, once even returning home for a scope only for it to morph into a Herring Gull at 40x, but this one was the real deal. I managed to get to within about 30-40m of it; unfortunately so did some footballers about a minute or two later, and as luck would have it, I didn't have my camera as the weather was so poor.

Now we've seen what happens when descriptions of Gulls are posted on here, so I will refrain from doing so lest buns get thrown. Suffice it to say that I am so confident that I wrote it up as soon as I got home and have already submitted it to the county recorder, for it remains a description species in London due to the confusion risks. No point hanging around, best to write these things immediately before you start imagining pro features. Maybe it'll get through, maybe it won't - I don't find many things, and am therefore rather inexpert at writing descriptions. It doesn't really matter - bottom line, I was happy, and it's now on my Wanstead list, and about time too. I've found several birds at Rainham, and whilst Gulls are still a minefield, the best advice I know is that if you have even the slightest doubt, then it isn't a Caspian. Everything has to add up, and this time everything did. Adult bird, in case anyone is on the lookout for it. When it was flushed, it flew south towards the Capel Road changing rooms, but I couldn't refind it. The Flats are looking very good for gulls right now, as the continued presence of the Med Gull shows. We're only a few days away from the anniversary of the mega-gull count in 2010, where persistent rain transformed the Flats into a large puddle, and we had over 3000 Gulls, including a record count of 82 Herring Gulls. Today there were only about 25 Herring Gulls, mostly juveniles, but if it continues to rain, that number may grow. Slaty-backed anyone?


  1. So we only get the descriptions that are rubbish?

    Go on, tell us why it was one.

  2. I don't need to justify my sightings to anyone. You can read about it in the 2011 LBR.

  3. PS - Whilst I do appreciate your concern for our identification skills, I feel that your cyber-birding ambitions may remain unfulfilled on this blog. I'd heartily recommend BirdForum for the experience you are perhaps after.