Friday, 2 April 2021

Iceland Gull

I 've continued the local walks out to Hall marsh scrape, around Seventy Acres and Holyfield lakes, along the farm track and have still not seen a decent migrant. Yes Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs are singing well but I've seen nothing else. No Wheatear, no hirundines, no Little-ringed plovers. I've tried Sewardstone marsh too and still nothing. Maybe I need to get up on the reservoir as I know Neville's picked up a few there this week.

On the 24th March I popped over to Wanstead. It's six miles from home and probably just outside the local guidelines but an Iceland Gull had been reported the day before so thought it worth a look and a very slight curve in my version of local. I found it sitting on the water at Alex lake but my camera jammed the autofocus and I had real trouble sorting it.

I managed a couple of poor shots but missed the best action.

Iceland Gull at Wanstead

A walk around the new fenced off area gave great views of the Skylarks it's designed to protect with at least three pair but I failed to spot the Wheatear that had been seen by others earlier in the day It was nice to bump into a few locals for a distanced catch up. My congratulations to all who had any part if getting this area fenced off and here's hoping the birds have a good summer.


On 29th the Stay local guidance changed meaning we could travel again. As of 29th March there is no law preventing travel within England although there's a very soft guidance asking people to minimise travel. We can't yet travel to Wales so the Walrus in Tenby is off limits. Still we are asked not to car share so my trips remain solo runs and I can't wait to get Dad and Jim in the car again to enjoy good old fashioned birding trips together. Maybe the fact that we'll all be double vaccinated in May will provide the protections we require.

With this new freedom to travel I made for Thursley hoping to see the Rustic Bunting that's wintered there. I have to say it feels really odd to be going anywhere as I've be locked onto the patch every day for months now and although it's permitted it feels strange and is something we're all going to have to get used to again if things are going to feel normal again anytime soon.

Thursley Common

I arrived at 6am to avoid people as much as possible still and walked out to the Bunting bush. A fly over Crossbill or two added another year tick (116) and singing Woodlark added another (117) At the bushes I could hear a small flock of Redpoll and spotted them in the top of a birch. Another Crossbill flew over and the Woodlarks started to sing and display before the two wintering Little Buntings dropped in to feed at the seed provided by locals. By 9am there was no sign of the Rustic and I left thinking it had departed on the previous nights full moon. I was proved right and left disappointed not to have seen it in it's now full breeding plumage. A quick check at Staines reservoir on the way back around the M25 netted me a couple of Black-necked Grebe (118) in splendid breeding plumage but distant. The midges had hatched in the heat and the causeway was alive and very unpleasant to walk or stand so I cut the visit short and headed home without adding anything else.

The 30th saw another trip to the valley were nothing was added and 31st saw me stretch my wings again with a trip to Abberton. Most wintering ducks have left with just a few Goldeneye left. There are lot's of Heron on site. From Abberton church I scoped and found nine Little Gulls (119) but the trip was disappointing and left me feeling a bit low having waited so long to get out and about I'd picked one of the most quiet days ever at Abberton.  Still no LRP, Wheatear or hirundines. 

Abberton and not a bird in site

In truth I'm missing the company of the Jims and got home today feeling like I'd lost my mojo or maybe just my usual spark. Usually any day out birding lifts my spirit but today I hadn't felt it. Social media is buzzing with new migrant arrivals and is flooded with images of the only two interesting vagrants to remain in the country, namely the Mockingbird and the American Herring Gull and the whole thing is tugging at my strings and leaving me wondering how long I can hold out on the twitch.

year list now 119

Oh and the camera is still playing up!

Image appears sharp at point of shutter release with green light indicating focus and the beep etc but the actual finished image is missing by some way and no it's not me missing. I'll try to sort it if not its a costly repair coming my way. 

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