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Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Barking Bay - Heavyweight Gulls

August 5th 

Now we are into August I will start stepping up the visits as autumn migration will soon be upon us, last year the large expanse of mud and the scrub produced some good birds.
The scrub area has always been a Wheatear magnet, especially the short cropped grass patch and it was for here I made for along the green sward.

En route I picked up Common Sandpiper, 5 Black Tailed Godwit, 2 Ringed Plover and 2 fully fledged groups of juvenile Shelduck out on the edge of the mud, tagging along with them was the hybrid now becoming a regular.
It was as I was half way down that first one Great Black Backed Gull and then a 2nd adult made themselves known with that deep guttural call and started to circle me, I have seen this behaviour before in past years, again at the Bay. Further to this one adult started to mock dive me getting really stressed, knowing it had to have a juvenile nearby I searched the mud, presently 1 came into view, not on the mud but flying overhead. This was the confirmation that I was after as I have suspected local breeding for a good few years,(see July 11th entry) I also had no doubt that this was the pair ¼ upriver at the Beckton Lesser/Herring Colony.
In past years both Paul and I have been mock dived by stressed angry Great Black Backed Gulls, at all those times we have not been able to locate a juvenile so it was good to have the proof at last.

Stressed adult Great Black Backed Gull

Juvenile G B B Gull approaching

The behaviour of the big Gulls seemed to have rubbed off on a pair of Lesser Black Backed as well as they started to dive me also, if anything coming even closer than there bigger relative, again it was due to a fledged juvenile being present in the sky. Bearing in mind that the colony is round the bend upriver, both the Greats and Lessers behaviour suggested that both were freshly fledged from the colony, very likely making their way down to Gull utopia, Rainham Tip.

As mentioned before I am not a Gull man and the differences between juvenile Great Black Backed and Lesser Black Backed Gulls had me scratching my head, they are very similar with differences in plumage marginal. Obviously GBBG is bigger but at times I must admit it gave me a headache trying to split them, judge for yourselves from the photos, hopefully I have got it right.

Adult L B B Gull

Rather stressed

Juvenile L B B Gull

Swifts were also on the move with 14 seen all going south across the river and an unexpected patch addition added to the list in the shape of a Great Spotted Woodpecker, the year list now stands at 101.Another 14 Black Tailed Godwits were also seen going down river.

An interesting visit, no Wheatears unfortunately but they are no doubt on the way.

Lancaster Bomber
Whilst sitting in my 2nd floor flat in Hornchurch on Saturday afternoon glued to the tele watching the Olympics, which has been brilliant, I heard a very loud aircraft approaching. I had an idea what it was as it got ever louder as there was a Military Aircraft show on locally over the weekend. With a start that Usain Bolt would have been proud of, I ran for the camera in the other room and managed to return just as it came right over the Flat.

I squeezed off a couple of shots before it went round the trees, and then one as it lined up probably for a low flypast as it had put it wheels down,. I can’t imagine it landing at the airstrip near Cely’s Wood as it is too small.

A stunning sight so low down, the noise of the 4 engines was incredible.

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