Tuesday, 24 November 2009


After the success of finding an old friend at Kingsdown yesterday (the Black Redstart) I thought that it might be worth trying to renew the acquaintance of the Purple Sandpipers at Hythe.

Of course it's impossible to go along the coast from Folkestone to Hythe without seeing Mediterranean Gulls. When this one flew over me at Folkestone I thought I'd taken an adult bird, but on closer inspection (of a not very good picture) it does look as if there are small dark tips to the outer primaries. These dark spots look quite small and I'm not sure that it is a 2nd winter bird, some third year birds do retain small dark tips to the wings.

On the other hand, this bird on the car park at Folkestone Lees was very definitely a 2nd winter bird. It has the classic wing pattern. Although only marginally larger than Black-headed Gulls, the much heavier "droopy" bill and distinct white eye-crescents, give the bird a totally different jizz.
When I got to the rock at Hythe, opposite the Hythe Bay Fish restaurant (is it as good as the menu looks?), the wind was about force seven and the spray blowing over the rocks. It took me sometime to locate a Purple Sandpiper (right in the middle of the picture) and although it was on the sheltered eastern side I couldn't get very close. I did stand on the edge of where the waves were getting to but took too long to focus etc., and of course a much larger wave came along and I found myself standing in the sea past my ankles.

While standing in the water I did notice this Eider Duck off shore and snapped it as the water receded from my toes.

The way the levels drop it was easy to get to the right area from the other side, and although climbing on the large rocks that make up the groyne is not my favourite pastime it was able to get to a position to look over to the other side and see the roosting Sandpiper.

By shuffling round the rock I managed a better view and also discovered that there were in fact three birds on the rocks.

I have to admit that I've always like waders and Purple Sandpipers are one of the most characterful of all. The way that they clamber round rocks as the waves crash over them, rarely bothering to take much evasive action shows an admirable fortitude. As the rain restarted I left them to do battle with the waves.

Just behind the seafront there is a cricket pitch, along South Street. Any playing field, at the moment, will be water logged and idea for gulls to feed on. This one was no exception and amongst the many Black-headed Gulls I did notice a couple of Meds. This one had a white ring on it's right leg but i wasn't able to read it.

I'm not sure what this one was feeding on. I suspect that earthworms do form a large part of Black-headed Gulls' diets during the wet season, so I suspect that Mediterranean Gulls are also picking out worms.
Along side the Gulls there was a very active flock of Starlings, although I didn't notice any interaction between the species.

1 comment:

Warren Baker said...

I check the Black headed Gulls on the fields every day Tony. Not a Med. among them....Yet!