The new year commenced in very much the same manner in which the previous finished, with gulls providing the staple for winter birding along the Thames in East London. The 3rd produced a couple of Caspian Gulls at Crayford, followed by a couple of first-winter Yellow-legged Gulls off Erith Pier. The obligatory brief stop at Princess Alice Wharf, Thamesmead, produced a further first-winter Yellow-legged, this bird being quite distinctive for the amount of covert moult it had already completed.
Final stop on 3rd was a regulation check of the Caspian Gull at Eagle Pond, Snaresbrook, which had successfully navigating into 2019 and was still specialising in stealing bread off the Black-heads on the pond mid-afternoon. Photo opportunities are always quite limited here - you need to visit on a dull day as the pond faces south, and then the lack of perches mean that either flight shots or photos of it swimming are the order of the day. Having already done it to death over the three times I've seen it this winter, I decided to try something a bit more experimental ...
On 5th I went down to Dungeness with Jamie and Dante. We only arrived in the early afternoon, so headed straight for the fishing boats. On arrival, Richard Smith had a nice second-winter Caspian around his feet. Quite a small and demure bird, it also lacked p10 mirrors, but otherwise was quite striking.
A quick visit to WWT London on the afternoon of 6th produced a 3cy Yellow-legged Gull and a 2cy Herring x Caspian Gull. The latter initially struck me as a Herring with several moulted coverts, but at more than one angle it had a strong whiff of Casp about it, and the underwing was quite pale. Much more tasteful were the two Water Pipits that showed well on the grazing marsh.