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Sunday, 7 November 2010

Apparent adult THAYER'S GULL in Essex

Saturday visited Pitsea Landfill tip in Essex with the gull ringing group where I was able to check out the gulls nearby in between netting sessions. As I approached the commercial tipping site I stopped to check the first group of gulls nearest to the track. It was here that I immediately picked out the bird in question. It just stood out from the crowd, given the size, shape, rather long looking primary projection, hooded appearance to the breast which came to a sharp demarcation, dark eye and bright bubble gum coloured legs.

IThe bird was slightly against the light so I decided to get some record shots of it before moving the vehicle to get a better lighted position. I took about 10 or so shots before moving but unfortunately in doing so disturbed the bird and it flew towards the tip face and out of view behind the mud mounds. As it flew I could see the the lack of large amounts of black in the wing tip and a lot more white. As I was moving the Landrover I didn't have my camera to hand at that time.

I parked up over looking the tipping area, well most of of, and within 2 minutes I picked out the bird at the back of the flock, again it was instantly obviously different. I again started taking pictures but most of these were over exposed and once I had changed my settings the bird had turned to face away thus I was only now able to get shots from behind. It then took flight and I rattled a number of shots off as the camera struggled to focus on the bird, I was left with only about 4 usable shots, though only really two of these showed the upper wing pattern, which on review of the bird got me very excited. I lost the bird as it flew down into the large gathered flock of gulls beneath the tip face and that was that. Despite searching for it for many hours after this I didn't see it again.

I also returned to the ringing group where they were set for a second netting but unfortunately the bird was not amongst the birds present.

Pitsea Tip is 'strictly' No Access however gulls visit the following locations to bathe and Roost:

Wat Tyler Country Park scrape - TQ737867. Large numbers can visit the scrape viewable from the main hide. Key access to the hide can be obtained from the Boat Museum.

Vange Wick - TQ77854. Very large numbers can be seen roosting here, viewable distantly from Wat Tyler Country Park or from the seawall at Vange Wick but bird cans be flighty in the exposed area.

Bowers Marsh - TQ755865. Large numbers gathering on the fields here, there is not many paths here and work is currently underway on the RSPB reserve here thus a lot of disturbance

West Canvey Marshes RSPB reserve TQ765845. Large numbers of large gulls visit the main flood and scrape here where viewing is possible from hides/blinds.

Hole Haven Creek: TQ747842. two mile walk from Lobster Smack pub to the north end of the creek to view towards Fobbing Horse. Site is tide dependant and numbers here unknown as not visited for a while but generally there are several hundred birds present when tide is low.

There is no Sunday tipping on the Landfil and there is usually only a fracton of the usually 7000+ large gull numbers present at the above locations. The above sites are best checked Mondays-Saturdays.

Steve Arlow