I joined Dante Shepherd for a couple of hours on this rising tide at Thames Barrier Park (TBP) this morning. It actually proved to be a pretty good session, with eight species of gull recorded. Just before Dante arrived, I was treated to East London's answer to hunting lions on the Serengeti – a Great Black-backed Gull catching, killing and eating a Feral Pigeon. That's one less flying rat in these parts ...
Aside that piece of action, the highlight was a 3cy Caspian Gull, which Dante ably picked out from the 150 or so large gulls present. It was quite subtle so we were initially cautious, although the more we looked at it the clearer it became that it was a Casp. TBP is a south-facing site so if it's a sunny day then you're in trouble for photos, hence the images below leave a lot to be desired. It's a fairly small bird, lacking the imposing and often striking structure of some big males, although plumage is good: note the small mirrors on the retained p10 feathers, for example. The knackered left wing should make it quite noticeable for a couple of weeks, although it's well into primary moult now, with p5 growing and p6 dropped.
It's always nice to get your first juvenile Yellow-legged Gulls of the summer on the board, and today was that day. A respectable total of nine was amassed, including four juveniles, the others being a mix of all other age classes.
A nice adult Mediterranean Gull also dropped in for a few minutes, but wouldn't be drawn by our frantic bread chucking and soon headed off upriver.
And finally it's worth paying tribute to this little critter, which seemed far too young to be floating around on the Thames on its own, close to a sandbar populated with GBBs. However, it could fly and seemingly held its own against fully grown gulls in the vicinity. Several fledged juvenile LBBs were seen, with two juvenile Herrings also arriving on the spit during our visit.