The annual trip to Rutland Water for the British Birdwatching Fair again saw me largely rooted to the BirdGuides stand in Marquee 2 for much of the weekend although, as is tradition for the Birdfair, staying at my mother's allowed me to sneak in some birding in the early mornings and late evenings.
On the way to set up at the show on the Thursday, I called in at the McCain's factory to see if any gulls were about. With precisely zero large gulls in the area, I felt quite despondent, but decided to have a quick drive past both Dogsthorpe and Tanholt, just on the off chance that something might be happening there. Dogsthorpe was capped off, with no activity, and it does really seem that it's game over here. However, contrary to my recent declaration that Tanholt too was finished as a gulling site, I was pleasantly surprised to find several hundred large gulls circling over the site as I arrived. Walking closer and it was clear that tipping was taking place!
Very quickly I was on to my first juvenile Caspian Gull of the morning, this followed by two further juveniles (including yellow-ringed 'X525' from Germany) and a near-adult. Quite pleasingly, there were also plenty of Yellow-legged Gulls in the area, with at least a dozen logged, most of which were juveniles. It was actually quite hard to drag myself away, although I was able to return the following morning for an hour or so with Rich and Hugh and again saw two of the juvenile Casps, including X525. And, on the second visit, we bumped into the site manager, who told us that tipping will probably take place here for another six to seven years. Promising for the gull watcher, at least.
Aside the gulls, birding was decent on my old stomping ground of Baston & Langtoft Pits. I tried to get a couple of visits in each day, both before and after the fair, and managed to connect with a few interesting things, not least a smart juvenile Black-necked Grebe, which first appeared on the Saturday and lingered thereafter. It has apparently become increasingly wary since the weekend, which makes it all the more galling that I absolutely butchered glorious photo opportunities early on the Sunday morning, the grebe preening within 10 metres of me as I lay hiding in the juncus at water level, blasting off dozens of shots ... only to realise my camera was lacking a memory card! As such, below is as good as my images got – into the light, not long after discovery on the Saturday morning. From memory, I think this is my third record of BNG at Baston, following a pair in June 2007(?) and an adult on the same pit as this latest bird in July 2012.
A trio of Garganey on the Sunday evening was also very pleasant, being the most I've seen together here at any single time. Waders were fairly average, with a smattering of migrant Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers, Common Sands and a juvenile Ruff present on the Saturday and Sunday.
The musings of a wildlife enthusiast, usually armed with his camera.