Saturday, 14 November 2015

Caspian Overdose!

The last line of my last post came true. Wow, what an afternoon...

It may have been very windy, sometimes wet and always grim, but the gulling on the Estuary this afternoon was absolutely fantastic!  It even drew a crowd, namely an ex-patcher who just couldn't ignore my texts, and an incredible bird artist who is quite simply on another level...

Gav, Tim Worfolk (an Axe rarity - maybe an Axe first in fact?) and Tim Wright (aka Davey)

It all kicked off at about 13:15 when on looking through the first flock of gulls I came across at Coronation Corner, a gorgeous and thankfully completely classic first-winter Caspian Gull stood tall.  My photos are shocking and really don't do it justice AT ALL, I just couldn't keep my scope and camera set up steady in the strong wind...

Bottom left, whiter than white and big and bold.

This could have been an excellent photo!

And this one had the potential to be even better!

I even tried a phone-scoped shot!

At least this one shows a bit more detail, a well advanced bird.

I texted the news out to the locals, and whilst waiting for Ian Mc and Dad to turn up I kept my scope fixed on it. Thankfully it did indeed remain in place for them, and for Tim Wright who turned up about half an hour later.  I really wasn't expecting what came next though.... another one!

Once the two Ian's arrived I was able to take my eye off the first-winter and check the flock of 150+ gulls further up the Estuary. I swung my scope around and was shocked to see another Casp, a second-winter! WOW!  A Casp double whammy!!! And only our second of this age ever on the Estuary (the first Axe bird was a second-winter). Sadly it always stayed distant and these phone-scope pics were as good as I got...

The bird just to the right of center, that distinctive neck streaking really made it stand out.

It's the one hunkered down behind the closest juv Herring Gull.

The fact it wasn't the longest billed Casp, or the biggest, made me think it could well be the bird that Mike Langman had at Broadsands last week - see HERE.  I thought it was for most of the time I was watching it to be honest, but a brief view of its tail seemed to show a complete and quite broad black tail band (Mike's bird had a broken tail band). Also looking at the photos, maybe this bird does show heavier streaking behind the neck and more black in the tertials than the Broadsands bird?

Sadly before any other birders turned up, 95% of the large gulls present took off and flew south. Bye bye first-winter, but amazingly one of the six gulls remaining on the shingle spit included the second-winter Casp!  Gav and Topsham Tim soon arrived and it remained on view until I left the scene at 15:20.

It wasn't just Casps here this afternoon. After the big flush that sent almost all of the gulls south, numbers gradually built up again as more were trickling in from the north, and these new arrivals included two adult Yellow-legged Gulls!  One remained distant but what I saw of it looked good, and the closer one was a right cracker. You'll have to take my word for it though...

Pretty much smack bang in the middle.

What a thoroughly enjoyable couple of hours, and just what I needed to take my mind of the evil in this world.


  1. Yay! Hot gulling! Impossible to resist :-)

    1. Gav I must apologise prefusely. I have labeled you an 'ex-patcher' in this blog post which is not the case. Although you have announced a new patch, I refuse to believe your inner self has relinquished this fantastic area quite yet...

    2. Steve, it's my 'work patch' ;-)

    3. Working on a wet Saturday afternoon? My word you are dedicated ;-)

  2. Thanks for the text Steve, couldn't resist the chance of 2 Caspians. Shame only the distant bird stayed for me, well worth it though. But what's this about 'on another level'? I think you must have meant to say 'on another planet'...

    1. Watching the news sometimes I wish I was on another planet!! Great to see you over here, and good luck in getting your own.