Friday, 7 November 2008




Viewing from the public footpath accessed from Lawn Hill, half a mile east of Edgcott, I spent 80 minutes 'scoping and click-counting the vast numbers of large white-headed gulls 'swarming' over the tip and resting in neighbouring fields and on ridges of earth. I was amazed at the sheer number of birds - very similar in number to what I used to experience at the once open tip at Hedgerley.

In total, I click-counted a staggering 4,913 large white-headed Gulls, including 2,562 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 1,826 Herring Gulls (of which a surprisingly large percentage were northern Argentatus), an outstanding 511 Great Black-backed Gulls and a much smaller number (14) of rare gulls. The latter included 11 YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS (5 adults, 3 2nd-winters and 3 first-winters), 3 CASPIAN GULLS (two clean-headed adults, with small dark eyes, greenish bills, aggressive foreheads & long pale legs, and a striking white-headed first-winter - seen at Calvert BBOWT recently) and a juvenile ICELAND GULL (seen earlier on BBOWT Lake and photographed). Despite such vast numbers of large gulls, small gulls were very much in the minority, with less than 200 Black-headed Gulls and only 15 or so Common Gulls.

At least 18 RED KITES were in attendance and most impressive was an estimated flock of some 7,500 Common Starlings, all often wheeling around in one huge mass.

At the nearby CALVERT BBOWT RESERVE, the JACK SNIPE was still showing well, 'bouncing' in one spot in the 'cut reeds' directly in front of the first hide (its favoured roosting and feeding spot is just behind the muddy scrape area, 10 yards in from the water's edge and 20 feet left of the middle horizontal log).

Wildfowl included just 4 Gadwall and 8 Tufted Ducks


A record 37 observers was present at 1600 hours, all anticipating tonight's 'show'. First to perform, as usual, were the SHORT-EARED OWLS, with all three birds hunting widely across the fields for over half an hour.

At 1635 hours, I located the juvenile HEN HARRIER, once again appearing from the east and then flying across the road and to within 75 yards of the large, assembled crowd. Fantastic views were obtained, allowing me to fully explain and illustrate to others the intracacies of ageing ringtail harriers. The viewing lasted just over four minutes as at 1639, it dived down into the long grass and did not reappear.

A noisy flock of 17 Greylag Geese flew SW, 2 COMMON STONECHATS were seen, 3 Roe Deer, 27 FIELDFARES, 352 Common Starlings SE to roost and as dusk approached, a beautifully close BARN OWL.

No comments: