Tuesday, 7 December 2010

Merlin's magic

Sleeker, longer-legged and more elegant than its congeners, this
rather long-billed third-winter Caspian Gull has a Polish colour ring.
Adult Caspian Gull with a shorter bill and dark-looking eye (though the
iris was actually quite pale through a zoom lens). A clean-cut beast.
Another adult Caspian - clearly a longer-billed bird than above. Note the
long, washed-out yellow legs (much brighter in Yellow-legged) and lime
tinge to the bill. A distinctive gull which stands out from the crowd.
This was the second third-winter Caspian from today's session. The dirty
head spoils the bird's jizz, but note bill length, shape and colour, and legs.
The planned search for Merlin at Rainham this morning could scarcely have gone better. First, though, I stopped off at the tip, unable to resist the lure of so many massing gulls, and was quickly joined by a passing Jono Lethbridge. In total we had four Caspian Gulls, including a colour-ringed third-winter (apparently Polish - details to follow), and six Yellow-legged Gulls.

Then it was on to the marshes, where Howard Vaughan was already in position on the mound at Wennington. Within five minutes, Jono managed to pick up a perched female Merlin, which we all then watched as it hunted (unsuccessfully) over the target pools before heading off east. Another welcome year-tick, and one I hadn't expected to fall so quickly.

Such was my euphoria that I refuse to let a much-wanted Snow Bunting which turned up an hour after I left spoil things - it was a great morning by any stretch.

London year-list update:
210. Merlin. 

Rainham patchlist 2010 update:
159. Merlin.

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