Rufous Turtle Dove.
An early start saw me heading to Chipping Norton on Saturday the 19th Feb in the hope of seeing the Rufous Turtle Dove that had taken up residence there on and off since December 2010 , the journey was uneventful and i duly arrived on site at approx 6.30 am , the weather was constant drizzle and i headed of to The Leys to join the already gathered queue of approx 100 other birders , it felt quite weird standing in the queue of this road god knows what the local residents thought when they opened their curtains ??? and as time went on the queue kept growing and growing , i think at its peak there must of been 400 birders there , the rain was getting heavier and after 2 hours i felt like a drowned rat , the news was negative from No. 41 where the dove was seen most mornings , oh joy getting up at 3 am driving all this way standing in a road for 2 hours getting soaked !!! i must be mad , oh wait i am !!!
Anyhow whilst i was debating whether i should go off and check out other areas were the dove had been seen from hence giving up my place in the queue or should i just wait it out just in case ?! the news broke the dove was seen on top of a tree between No41 and 39 , well it was nothing short of a stampede , total madness no order nothing , and i was more or less carried along with the crowd , some how i was near the front so i crouched down out of the way when another birder bumped into me knocking me over , then i tried to set my scope up while kneeling down only to find someone standing on my straps . total madness eventually i managed to set the scope up and was soon enjoying the Roufous Turtle Dove ( form Orientalis ).
Another record shot .
The dove eventually flew off and was then re found in tree at the bottom of the Leys in a field and the madness started all over again , i got myself in a goodish position to view the dove , notable features were the white tipped median and greater coverts giving it a scaly appearance , the upper breast and belly were fairly dark , the pale head with smallish red eye were noticeable , i never really got a great view off the tail but i did notice the whitish tipped tail edgings did nt seem as extensive as normal Turtle Dove , the neck markings were evident every now and again , red legs were also seen , overall a very compact dove and despite the total madness of the occasion and the weather being awful it was well worth the journey on are return journey we added 6 Red Kites .
On Sunday the 20th Feb. i headed off to Rainham marshes in the hope of seeing Britain's first Slaty Backed Gull , this bird has been giving birders the run around turning up at Pitsea , Hannigfield res. and of course Rainham , also it has gone missing for weeks on end , so i was hopeful more than expectant of seeing this bird , i arrived at Rainham and i was informed that the rubbish tip doesn't work on Sundays and therefore the gull has not been seen here on Sundays as it only comes in to feed at the tip and then rest up on the marsh , not the news i had hoped for to be honest , but my thoughts were well it has to be somewhere and although the tip is closed there is still going to be food waste there for any gulls to feed on , i headed off towards Wennington marsh and the rubbish tip along the sea wall adding Wigeon , Teal and 100 + Dunlin , plus 11 Avocets were a nice to see , i got onto a small falcon flying over the river from Crayford marsh heading in land and i soon identified it as a Merlin !
I reached Wennington marsh and there were not many gulls about to be honest , although there were several large gulls flying inland most of the time , i joined 3 other birders and they informed me that they had not seen it , i checked through the gull roost in the middle of the marsh which were very distant , as i was getting nearer to the tip i noticed a closer roost of large gulls and i started to scan through the flock , as i was scanning a large gull flew across and landed in my view , very broad white secondaries just hit me , long legged , darkish grey wings ,white head with streaking on the nape , deep fierce bill, my god it was the SLATY BACKED GULL i quickly got another birder onto it, we watched it for about 10 mins , wow i could not believe my luck , then the gulls all took up some went left and right and it was lost to view the murky conditions were awful , i couldn't decide to put the news out or wait until i picked it up again , we were joined by 3 other birders and we all started to scan for it again , and thankfully another birder picked it up again , i then put the news out at 12.14 pm and the Slaty Backed Gull was then seen for most of the afternoon , and like my title says , ( Like buses ) i have been waiting ages for one lifer now i have had two in a weekend !!!!!.