London: Urban Birding

Being invited down to London to take part in the Remembrance Memorable Service, I fitted in some time to meet up with some old friends to do what cockney birders do best, gulling!


Thame Barrier – Image by Samuel Levy

Meeting up with Samuel Levy (@FinchleyBirder) at the Thames Barrier Park, we set ourselves up for the next few hours catching up and keeping an eye out on the banks of Thames, awaiting any surprises the tide might be pushing in: Eurasian Teal, Common Redshank, Dunlin, Common Kingfisher, Great Cormorant and Little Egret were of note, of which the most interesting thing was that one of the Great Cormorants that came in close enough to be raced was a sinensis. Once a county rarity in Cheshire but down here in London they can be found in abundance, a great delight for a subspecies enthusiasts such as myself.

LDN Little Egret_edited-1

Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

LDN sinensis Cormorant_edited-1

“Continental” Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo sinensis)

LDN Common Gull

Common Gull (Larus canus)

An hour on and we were joined by Dante Shepherd (@dante_shep) and his mentor Rich Bonser (@bonser_rich) and this was were fun started. Having all brought loafs with us, six strong we let loose with bread flying left, right and centre and in came the gulls: several hundred European Herrings and Black-headed, supported by a handful of Common Gull, Lesser black-backed and Greater-black-backed Gull.

LDN 3rd win YLG mkii_edited-1

3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)


2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis) – Image by Samuel Levy

LDN 3rd win YLG_edited-1

3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)

LND 2nd wint YLG

2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)

What we were hoping for were that one or two London’s iconic Caspian Gulls would join in the feast however after three hours not a single bird was picked up; much to my disappointment having only encountered Caspian Gull once before at Port Sunlight River, Cheshire which stands as my only one to date. However, despite the lack of Caspian we were treated to up to five Yellow-legged Gull of various ages including 2nd winter, 3rd winter, sub-adult and adult. Taking into account how scarce these birds are in the north-west, it was a great delight to familiarise myself with the species once more.

Thanks for reading, E.


Sam has also written up his own account of our afternoon out which you can read here on his blog –  The World Of Birds Blogs


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