Predictably I was late, and so "offered" to drive Mrs L to her afternoon engagement. Tangled up in Ilford traffic, I took a back route towards Forest Gate and found myself alongside Wanstead Flats. Drat. And there were a lot of Gulls. Double Drat. The car mysteriously stalled, and at this moment I remembered that my scope was still in the boot from the morning at Rainham. Before I registered what was happening, I had the scope up, and was grilling the Gulls. Wow, my previous estimate of simply "a lot" turned out to be rather understating the numbers. I called Tim, who came out and was also suitably gobsmacked. We know we get a lot of Gulls, and the peak counts this winter have been somewhere in the region of 1000 Common Gulls, with perhaps 600 Black-headeds. Gosh this is developing into an interesting post isn't it? Well, Tim did a quick count and ended up at 2,500, predominantly Black-headed Gulls, all feeding on the new mega-puddle where the playing fields used to be. Could some of these be the same I had seen go past Rainham, now dispersed? We will never know, but they had to go somewhere. I'm a slower counter, but managed a high count of 82 Herring Gulls. This absolutely whoops the previous high-count, which according to my notes at least, was 17 last November. One even had a colour ring, which, when EURING's website sorts its bandwidth out, will be submitted to discover a no doubt scintillating life history.
Whilst sifting through these, I found this rather curious specimen. Not a putative Caspian I am pleased (and relieved) to say. I reckon it's just a Common Gull, but as you know I can't be trusted with gulls. Just look at its head! I've circulated it amongst a few fellow birders, and received some sensible and not-so-sensible theories, but do any of you have any ideas?
Larus canus ssp "mankius" ??