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31 October 2011
Here come the gulls...
A quiet day on the flats this morning. Only the Wood Pigeons were making any effort in numbers and movement, so I headed off to the park. Tufty numbers are on the up and I counted nearly fifty without even looking at the ornamental waters. The Pochard weren't doing much, but at least they were awake.
I had a quick look for any returning Water Rail at the west end of Perch, but the swamp is in need of some water - a deluge. Nothing. A flock of tits were feeding in the willows, among them a couple of Goldcrest flitted through the leafless canopy. The open water held 17 Tufties and and a similar number of, now, very elegant Gadwall, while a Heron stalked the margins.
Down in the old sewage works I mused about refinding the otter Steve saw last week. Apparently, according to the park rangers Steve had spoken to, someone has released an Asian Short-toed creature into the park at some point, and the rather smaller version of our own indigenous variety is what he concluded he must have seen. Unfortunately there was nothing in the Roding but rubbish and a sofa. A Kingfisher did make an appearance and landed on some weeds further downstream, briefly.
On the way back I heard Bullfinch and tracked one as it flew high over the golf course south. One day I'll get a photo, but they do seem very wary. Their presence added to the feeling of anticipation that something good was about to happen, and I would have happily stayed longer, but work beckoned and I had yet to trudge round the Alex.
It was still gloomy when I finally reached the flats again. Shoveler swam in and out of the encroaching willows and a smart male Teal fed along on the shore of one of the islands. The female Wigeon put in appearance and has probably been there all the time I missed her last week. It would be nice if we had a long staying Pintail, or a diving duck but the disappearance of the all the Little Grebe and the solitary Tufty suggests that there is not much of interest in the slowly shrinking pond.
But gulls there were. Common Gull are now as abundant as the Black-heads, and with numbers on the up you've got to check them all, just in case. So I did.
The Mediterranean Gull appeared barely able to keep its eyes open as it floated round in the wake of its more energetic cousins. Smart bird though. I think the fourth record this year, all of which I've found. Not bad for someone who's crap at gulls.