Caspian Gull ~ 1st. W ~ Bob Dunn Way, Dartford, Kent - 28.01.14

Tuesday 28 January 2014

Late afternoon at the floods on Bob Dunn Way, I found a adult Caspian Gull right at the very back of the pool, it couldn't of been any further away.
I had nice scope views, mentally tick all the features, blah blah, yellowish legs, yep Caspian ..
This bird wasn't rung, so a new bird and also wasn't as striking as the last adult, more subtle and easily overlooked ...
It was so distant but still needed a record image, rattled off 5 or 6 then the roost flushed and not seen again ..
Got home, images onto computer, checking for the adult ..
There it is ...
 No it not thats got pink legs !!
The bird was so small in the frame i'd taken images of the wrong bird !!!
The Caspian was further left and not even in the frame ....

Also there was a 1st. W. Caspian the same bird as No: 2 from Xmas day and its been seen a few times at Viridor since ..

I could see this one  ..

500 + 1.4=700mm ~ 1/200 ~ F5.6 ~ iso 320


Caspian Gull ~ 1st. W ~ PNEL ~ Dartford, Kent - 26.01.14

Monday 27 January 2014

Spent all day going between Viridor Recycling Center, Jolly Farmers and the flood on Bob Dunn Way staying dry and viewing from the van !!

Many large gulls today possibly due to bad weather or Rainham being shut ..

Two 1st. W. Caspians
1st-2nd-3rd. W. Yellow-legged Gull

Highlight was another Polish ringed Caspian ..

Caspian Gull ~ 1st. W

Ringed as a pullus on 24.05.13
at Paczkow, Opolskie, Poland
by Jacek Betleja & Jakub Szymczak

Seen in Cley, Norfolk in Oct & Nov '13 by Mark Golly ..
Andy Tweed found it at Rainham, Essex on the 17th Jan '14 ..

I had it at Bob Dunn Way, Dartford on the 26th Jan '14 ..

Martin's covered the bird here ..

Iceland Gull ~ 1st. W ~ Viridor Recycling, Crayford, Kent - 24.01.14

Friday 24 January 2014

With the light fading and the mass of gulls slowly dispersing to roost, a small gull, on Viridor Recycling roof standing head looked promising, the lot flushed and in flight it was obviously a Iceland !!
Trying to relocate the bird proved difficult, time and again, a truck would flush the mass and then its back to re-finding it, a ghostly white bird just blends in with 700 gulls in flight ..

I managed a record shot, before they all vanished and viewing the back of the camera a few features didn't quite fit right, I raised the possible by text to AL, then CB rang and the same features raised. 
Once home the image was sent to AL & RB with possible kumlienii talked over.
With only this image to work with, it does show enough of the tail and lack of a band, for the time being to rule out kumlienii, open wing images would of been nice but near-on impossible ..
Still with a few features that puts it on the overlap of both Iceland/Kumlien's.

Until prolonged views or better images its Iceland Gull ...


Caspian Gull ~ Ad. W ~ 355P ~ Jolly Farmers, Crayford, Kent - 23.01.14

Thursday 23 January 2014

The waste ground to the side of The Jolly Farmers Pub, Crayford formerly known as Dussek's held the bulk of the roosting birds today.
With the bird control van in Viridor, unsettling the gulls and the kites in the council tip keeping them off Bob Dunn way then the waste ground produced the goods ... 
Ad + 2nd. w YLG's
Ad. Caspian 
Med Gull

The adult Caspian is a ringed bird, Green with Gold code 355P rung in 2008 in Poland.

In December 2010 this bird was seen at Rainham RSPB by Dominic Mitchell & Jono Lethbridge ...

In July 2011 it was back in Poland ..

In January 2012 it was again at Rainham seen by Dominic Click here

And again in January at Crossness, London seen by Richard Bonser Click here also Kev Jarvis and Me Click here

A great looking bird that unfortunately is now limping on its rung leg seems to have a wound to the foot, not fresh but healed leaving a hole, hopefully not affecting it to much ...


Note the above primary pattern 

And the wing from 2012 showing smaller P9 mirror

Ringed as a Pullus on 22.05.2008
at Jankowice, Babice, Poland 
by Jacek Betleja 

Caspian Gull ~ Ad. W ~ Dungeness, Kent - 18.01.14

Tuesday 21 January 2014

Saturday was a good day for gulls, lots of gulls feeding on the high water line on rough seas by a strong S.E wind.

We were joined by Jono, He prefers Oenanthe to Laridae yet spent all day photographing Rissa tridactyla !!

Me, well I left all my gear indoors coat, hat, gloves & w/p trousers and it was cold checking though the roosts and feeding birds best were Little & Med.

One last scan through at 16:40 and in amongst a small roost near the wooden tower was a adult Caspian Gull.
The structure of the bird, with high breast puffed out, long legged and big curved bill add to that the grey mantle shade and the bird stood out ..

The obligatory long distance, super cropped images were taken ..


Now just need to get up close to it !!

Caspian Gull ~ 2nd. W ~ Dungeness, Kent - 05.01.14

Monday 6 January 2014

Saturday had some strong winds, thousands of gulls, 5 Essex-boys but couldn't find a Caspian ...
DW had two birds
Sunday next to no wind and hardly any gulls but a few good birds ..

   From The Patch I picked this bird out of the melee in the morning with Chiddy & Adam and shortly after it flew east and was lost to view.
Later in the afternoon near the fishing boats Me & Richard were trying our luck with a 1st & Ad. W- Little Gulls closest were had them so far.
At the boats were MB, GH, CG & JP mostly talked about Japan and weirdo's that go to the Delta for gulls.
Chris had the Caspian earlier in the roost so we all tried again, without locating it until it flew from the middle over to the boats ...

Caspian Gull ~ 2nd. W

All at ... 1/800 ~ F4 ~ iso 800

The bird fed on the tideline picking up mainly queen cockle, it searched the same area returning to start over looking for food a few times before resting on the sea ...
A great looking bird to start the year off

Gull Images of 2013

Friday 3 January 2014

This is a collection of my best Gull images of 2013

I've chosen one image of each species, which I consider my best of that species for the year

A total of 15 species of Gull for 2013

Some of the more commoner species allow for multiple chances to gain images, although with the rarer species you may only get one chance ..

The challenge is to create artistic images, all the elements within the frame have to work together, to compliment or add interest. Its not just about the subject, the surroundings are equally important.

Audouin's Gull

1/1600 ~ F4.5 ~ iso 640

Low angle & narrow dof  has blended the foreground into the background creating a nice bokeh. 
The side lite image casting a shadow over half the bird and add to this the bubbles makes for a very pleasing image ...

Black-headed Gull

1/2500 ~ F9 ~ iso 640

A bright yet partly overcast day, gave good speed against grey background.
The immature gulls are alot more interesting with there plumage marking as this bird shows with a nice wing spread ...

Bonaparte's Gull

1/500 ~ F8 ~ iso 400

I just love low angle shots which diffuse the foreground and background and blends them together. Slight head turn towards the lens is nice ...

Caspian Gull

1/2000 ~ F7.1 ~ iso 320

Well lit, nice wing spread, catchlight in the eye. Low over the water and a fairly diffused backround ...

Common Gull

1/2500 ~ F8 ~ iso 640

Nice ventral view showing the course underwing markings and tail spread.
Well lit with catchlight ...

Glaucous Gull

1/800 ~ F4 ~ iso 400

Good pose and detail, with eye contact ...

Great Black-backed Gull

1/1600 ~ F4 ~ iso 400

 The light has picked out the ripples together with the bird coming into land ...

Herring Gull

1/800 ~ F5 ~ iso 320

The low angle just blends the foreground & background together ...
 A simple shot that works well ..

Ivory Gull

1/2000 ~ F4.5 ~ iso 320

Low angle to try to diffuse the background as much as possible ...
I was wishing for more but with poor light and limited possibilities it was a struggle ..

Lesser Black-backed Gull

1/1600 ~ F4 ~ iso 800

Set against the grey overcast sky works better than blue and even the bird looks moody ...

Little Gull

1/2000 ~ F6.3 ~ iso 400

The curve of the water droplets with the background sufficently diffused sets the birds pose and spray off nice ...

Mediterranean Gull

1/2000 ~ F8 ~ iso 400

The curves of the wings and the minimalist background ...

Ring-billed Gull

1/2500 ~ F8 ~ iso 400

Nice pose and feather detail ...

Slender-billed Gull

1/2500 ~ F8 ~ iso 320

The colours picked up on the ripples makes this simple side-on pose ...

Yellow-legged Gull

1/640 ~ F7.1 ~ iso 400

Clean background, interesting rock with big yellow feet on it ...
Would of liked a bit more bill separation from the body ..

Working with Gulls to create or simply take pleasing, artistic images of gulls isn't easy ...
Just pressing the shutter isn't enough ..
Thinking and planning the image beforehand is sometimes possible, like your positioning for background or your angle on the subject ..
Some images are purely down to luck, right place, right time ...

Hopefully lucky in 2014

2013 Summary !!!

Thursday 2 January 2014

Another fantastic year ...

Firstly 2013 has been amazing for many reasons, the trips, the birds, but most importantly images !!
That's what its all about images, Photographing birds, trying to capture artistic, pleasing shots of the chosen subject as best you can ...

The things that stood in the way of photography were, mainly weather related, rain, grey cloud, but we avoided most by going to areas with a better forecast. 
The general lack of birds played apart, most would argue this with a stack of megas & rarities that turned up but its difficult to get good images with so many birders about.
Why then was there so many weekends resulting in no images, it was Me being a stubborn arse, due to not wanting to press the shutter for the sake of it ..
If theres a bird in your lens most have a compulsive reaction to press the trigger, i'm still thinking about getting in out the bag !! 

Some months were laden with images to choose from, mainly because I did actually get the camera out !!

This is still going to be tough to choose but I'm going to start with ...

"Image of the Month"

Slavonian Grebe ~ Littlebrook Lake, Dartford

Fieldfare ~ Shoeburyness, Essex

Hoopoe Lark ~ Merzouga, Morocco

Peregrine ~ Kent

Dusky Thrush ~ Margate, Kent

Nuthatch ~ Gilfach, Powys

Bonaparte's Gull ~ Crossness, London

Caspian Gull ~ Dungeness, Kent

Caspian Gull ~ Dungeness, Kent

Audouin's Gull ~ Pollenca, Majorca

Caspian Gull ~ Dungeness, Kent

Slender-billed Gull ~ Ebro Delta, Spain

Best Trip
Hands down it has to be our Morocco Trip at the end of Feb/Mar .. The 4 of us Me, Richard, Jono & Bradders birded from dawn till dusk at some great locations and  resulted in some brilliant birds !!
 Returning in Feb '14 !!

Best Location
Standing alone, on the courtyard at Yasmina Hotel in the dark just waiting as the sun came up to reveal the stunning sand dunes of The Erg Chebbi

Best for Images
Has to be the Lesvos trip in April with slightly more images in the favourites than Morocco but only by two  !!
Superb !!

Luckiest Moment
Could be our day we had with the Peregrine which put on a display just for us but this has to go to the Juvenile Caspian Gull that we found and spent the day photographing at Dungeness ... we had it to ourselves !!

Bird of the Year
Now with so many great birds photographed this year it should of been hard to choose, but it must go to the superb Hoopoe Lark out in Morocco ...

Plans for 2014

Jan/Feb .. Ireland for Nearctic Gull's
Feb .. Morocco ~ BOOKED
June .. Iceland ~ BOOKED
 Eygpt would be nice ..

And Poland or Estonia as long weekends

Target Species for 2014

Well  just about any species that let's you get close enough !!

But White-eyed Gull is the one .. 

Thanks to all who take the time to talk, comment and give out info ...

My favourite

"Image of the Year"

Birding is so much more enjoyable when you stop listing !!

Good Luck for 2014