Tuesday, October 04, 2016

Canvey Point - be careful what you wish for.

An easterly wind following a northerly gale; a rising tide; surely Canvey has to deliver seabirds galore today.

I was the only one who thought so. I arrived at 10 am with the tide rapidly rising from the recent low to a blank set of benches and that's the way it was for the next two hours. What did I see? well ...

The definite. the usual waders, Curlew, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Redshank, lots of Little Egret, some Teal and Brent Goose, and about 7 Mediterranean Gulls over my head including a sparkling 1st winter. Out on the river a likely max of 6 Gannets, mainly juveniles going out of the estuary but a party of 3 upriver. a Great-Crested Grebe, and at least 1 Kittiwake, though probably more.

the probables. I saw a tern flying down river. Darkish, probably a Black Tern, but hang on! Something wasn't right, it was deeper winged, possibly by-coloured on the wing, in all likelihood a juvenile Sabine's Gull. I watched it for about 5 minutes, but couldn't get a decent zoom on it to see key features. It was easy to pick out amongst the other gulls as smaller, thinner-winged, more tern-like.  Who knows ...

the possibles. I would have liked a skua. All the gulls were doing their best to look like skuas, with looking into the sun not helping. I think a number of them were kittiwakes due to the grace of their flight. There was one small bird that was all brown; a juv long-tailed? and another high up circling round like an Arctic Skua, but no white wing flashes. Oh well.

I'm not sure what I like most, setting with experts putting names to everything or being left to my own devices. I would have preferred some company but the challenge of trying to identify seabirds in a gale half a mile out is quite exhilarating!



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