Saturday, 15 June 2013

Kent: gull and kite

On Monday I had a chance for a half day trip out to Kent where Black Kite and Bonaparte’s Gull are present within a few miles of each other. The Birdguides directions for the kite were a bit vague but I got lucky and managed to find the site fairly easily. About a dozen people were staring across a valley where the bird had been seen an hour or so earlier, nothing showed except a couple of Buzzards for another 20 minutes or more, then some guys turned up saying that the kite was perched up on the other side of some trees we’d been looking at. A short walk down the hill and the Black Kite was a bit distant but giving good scope views in a tree. After a while it took off and circled closer to where we standing then drifted off out of sight.
The Bonaparte’s had been commuting between Oare Marshes and Elmley RSPB on Sheppey. There was no news today but it seemed sensible to take a look since it was so close. I arrived to hear it was showing and a quick scan of the scrape and islands revealed a 2CY gull smaller than the neighbouring Black headeds with smudgy charcoal grey rather than brown head markings. It did nothing for ages then a crow put up all the gulls on the islands and the Bony’s settled down to feed on the water with a fast picking Little Gull action (almost like a phalarope). The light was really awkward: mostly dull, but constantly changing. The nearly white water and a pale gull causing problems for my (and other people’s) autofocus. I managed to get a few shots with the exposure more or less right using manual and messing about with the exposure compensation. It was some way out on the scrape so the following shots are mostly with a 2x converter and fairly heavily cropped. It was much easier to pick up on the water, looking tiny compared to the Black headed Gulls (even those of the same age) so perhaps this is a female? The grey nape wasn't always particularly conspicuous, but shows up well in the second shot below.

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