Friday 28th February: Little Gull & Caspian Gull

There's been a definite feel of things picking up finally this week. The floods have started to recede and by mid week were down sharply enough for a thin strip of land to be exposed along the eastern edge of the river - one of my favourite Meadow configurations as regular readers will know. I even managed a visit every evening apart from Wednesday when fortunately Liam Langley provided cover.

There are hoards of Black-headed Gulls about now, pouring over the newly exposed grass for worms etc. In amongst them are noticeably more Common Gulls as their spring passage starts to kick off. Numbers of large gulls by contrast are still relatively low though do seem to be picking up a bit. The five REDSHANK have been around most of the week and on Wednesday Liam managed to find the first OYSTERCATCHER of the year for the Patch. A smattering of GOOSANDER have been around each evening though only in small numbers of late. The PINTAIL are finally back with 8 or so birds about on Thursday and there was a count of 11 Gadwall earlier on in the week. The two SHELDUCK have been around for the latter part of the week.

The highlight of the week was today when first I picked out a very smart adult winter plumaged LITTLE GULL. Unfortunately it didn't stay settled long enough for me to get any photos before it got swept up in the maelstrom of restless gulls. There were quite a few YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS about, mostly 2nd winter birds - it's good to have some of those back after a lean period of late. Finally at last light I picked out what looked promising for a 3rd winter CASPIAN GULL - not an age that I'm familiar with for this species. I busied myself with taking photos and thanks to Ian Lewington the ID was eventually confirmed.

A video grab of the 3rd winter Caspian Gull ...

...and a crucial wing-flap shot that clinched the ID...

...and some video as well.

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