Bradder's had kindly offered to take me over to the KGV where he'd bagged the female Scaup, which I need for the PLL (Pointless London List), on the way we dipped the Garganey at the Ingrebourne, but had ticked off the Red-crested Pochard on the Berwick Res. Just entering the North circular round about, I read out a tweet from Shaun. Red-throated Diver, Rainham. No choice really, we turned back to the east. An RTD is pretty mega anywhere in London, especially on the river. this one was apparently close to the shore in Aveley Bay (that should have started alarm bells ringing). After spending 5 hours for a minutes view of an RTD just the other week one pops up ("showing well") at the second patch.
It soon became clear that this was a sorry looking diver, oiled on cheek and round the vent and when it rose up out of the water to try and flap its wings they looked like old rags. I have not felt this hopeless and sad for another creature in a long time (Little Swift day springs to mind), it was quite clearly on its way out. It dragged itself on to the mud on a couple of occasions, which inadvertently might have helped clean some of the oil off, but all in all the prognosis was not good. In preening it would have swallowed oil which would be then burning away at its insides, while it's water proofing would have been compromised to the extent that hypothermia would be inevitable. I tried calling the RSPCA, but there nearest branch was in Camberwell and it was closed. They would have needed a boat anyway. We watched as it floated around the bend in the river, all joy evaporated.
News though a few days later of another diver, apparently less oiled, around Putney could mean it made a bit of a recovery, or, hopefully not, a second bird damaged by our complete disregard for our environment. Here's hoping it and the Rainham bird are the same and it might yet survive, or at least get the care and attention it needs.
On Tuesday I made the tortuous journey to a park in south London where a Ring-billed Gull was meant to have been seen, whether it had or not I have no idea. It took me so long to get there I had 10 minutes to hoof it round the rather attractive little park, it has to be said, and only got this 1st winter Common Gull for my efforts. The Collins highlights the problem of ID at this stage of the alike species. A stout bill and and pale fringes to wing feathers were the helpful annotations. Mine unfortunately showed a bill that was just not stout enough. Unless I am completely wrong again!
Above g(grrr)ull at Beckenham
Above 1st winter Common Gull, Wanstead
Missed a Mandarin there too.
So now a third of the way through the year I am currently 22 behind Mr Connor, thanks to a Willow Warbler and Swallow on the patch this morning. He managed 25 new birds in April, so far I've racked up 7. Some work needed I think.