Monday, 29 January 2018

This is Getting Silly...

Once again lunchtime found me beside the Axe Estuary at Coronation Corner. I'll confess, this wasn't my first time beside the river today, but an earlier scoot along had been fruitless. Good numbers of big gulls, but mostly a little too distant for comfortable viewing with bins through a windscreen. Out we get then, scope up, scan. Zip. Back inside, sarnies out, World at One, munch...

Gulls were trickling in constantly, which definitely warranted another scoping before I headed off. And yes, in keeping with current stupid amounts of jam, right there in the middle of the flock was a Caspian Gull.

Straight away I recognised it as Tim's bird, and just as straight away it did the off, flying upriver to land bang in front of the Tower Hide. It took me about ten minutes to get round to the hide, and there it still was, really close. Annoyingly, the moment I got the camera out the bird flew back across the river, but at least I managed a few very distant shots of it...

I'll admit, it doesn't exactly stand out like a sore thumb at this angle in the gloomy light

By this time I'd alerted Steve, who once again kindly put the news out, and in the distance I could see a birder climbing out of his car at Coronation Corner. So, back I went...

It was Mark Bailey from Torbay, who'd been conveniently near at hand visiting the Glossy Ibis at Seaton Marshes. It's always a pleasure to share good birds, and Mark and myself and another birder who'd just turned up had great views as it stood alone on the nearby mud. A couple of shots...

Conditions were still very gloomy. I know a 1st-winter Casp is hardly a kaleidoscope of colour, but without sunshine it's hard even to see what's grey and what's brown.

At that moment the gathering clouds emptied a lot of water onto us and we retreated. I hung around though, and following the rain came a gap in the weather. The sun even emerged. The Casp was still present, and now quite active amongst the good-sized flock of gulls at the water's edge. I got some more photos...

Compare the Casp with those 1st-winter Herring Gulls all around it. What a difference a bit of sunshine makes. Especially when the water is reflecting a nice dark rain cloud for a bit of contrast. Despite how obvious it looks in this series of shots, I'm pretty sure its mantle and scaps are the darkest, most heavily marked I've yet seen on a Casp, with less contrast between them and the coverts than I'm used to. So not a textbook individual, I would say. But still a Casp I think, and still beautiful!

Just after 15:00 it upped and went, heading away S over the town. About ten minutes before that, Julian Thomas turned up. Perfect timing. So this visit was approximately an hour and 45 mins. By Axe standards that is a long stay!

Finally, Mr Collage presents his latest offering. Tim's on the left, today's on the right...

No question, it's the same bird

So then, a good day. A good day for bumping into scarce gulls. A good day for bumping into birders I haven't seen in a while. And a good day for piking...

This morning, before all the gull stuff, Rob got in touch. A bit later he sent me some photos. Here's one...

Rob's first twenty! Bit of a 'scraper' at 20lb 2oz, but what a lump! I was nearly as chuffed as Rob!


  1. Gav,
    Please convey my congratulations to Rob, that is a magnificent pike, scraper twenty indeed! A wild pike over twenty pounds is a rare beast and something to be proud of, Caspian Gulls - ten a penny by comparison! Take care - Dyl

    1. Cheers Dyl, I'll do that with pleasure. Rob was naturally quite delighted, and this fish was very much on his own terms too, so doubly satisfying I think.

      Re 'scraper': of course, I shan't be ribbing him about checking his scales or anything like that... ;)

  2. C'mon, admit it Gav - you're morphing back into a birder again!

    1. Steve, I reckon that's a theory worth considering in the next post! ;)

    2. Are you confusing birder with gull fetishist?

    3. I'd like to point out that several times during this particular gull-watching episode I heard a Greenshank call and even mentioned it to Stevie when I spoke to him, because a winter Greenshank on the Axe is rarer than Caspian Gull. So I am aware of other genera.

      Mind you, I didn't take my eyes off the gulls in order to try and actually see it. I mean, I know what a Greenshank looks like...