All images courtesy of Susan SammonsWe've had a fantastic couple of weeks at The Scrubs that has involved the discovery of great birds like Northern Wheatear, Common Redstart, Ring Ouzel, a Whimbrel feeding on the football pitches and a wayward Common Sandpiper. We had high hopes for the discovery of another great bird yesterday during the London Natural History Society bird walk that I was leading.
Nearly 50 people showed up on one of the nicest days of the year. The sun was absolutely beaming down. I instructed the group from the outset to be on big bird alert as conditions seemed favourable for a passing raptor. We were walking across the football pitches as I waxed lyrical about the importance of looking up when birding when I looked up and immediately saw a white-winged gull soaring high overhead with an accompanying Herring Gull. My heart raced as I shouted out 'Iceland Gull!' It looked like one to me apart from a slight niggle. For a second I thought that its head and beak looked too rugged for an Iceland. It just didn't feel gentle enough. I dismissed that doubt in a heartbeat and instead asked for anyone one in the group with a camera to start popping off some shots.
I was still celebrating the first Iceland Gull for the patch a few hours later when I recieved a text from my mate James Lowen. He asked me to consider the possibility of it being a leucistic Herring Gull. Alarm bells started to ring at full volume. Apparently, there is a leucistic bird that bears the ring SH1T that was originally controlled by the North London Ringing Group and has been doing the rounds at various sites both inside and outside London like Rainham Marshes and Beddington Farm. It has been leaving many confused folk in its wake and now it looks as though I have been added to the 'Fake Iceland Gull Club'. Looking at the photographs you can see that the bird has a very typical Herring Gull structure and my Larid loving peers tell me that the wear on the primaries were not befitting those of a genuine Iceland Gull.
Ah well, we're on 85 species for the year at The Scrubs thus far. Number 86 will have to come from elsewhere.