2.30 p.m., 13ºC, 55ºF, blustery winds and continuous showers from the west: Forty or fifty black-headed gulls flock down when children scatter breadcrumbs by the semi-permanent puddle alongside the duck pond at Thornes Park. I spot only one gull with the full chocolate brown mask of its summer plumage; some have just a dark dot behind the eye, others are at a halfway stage.
I draw a gull in flight which has a black band at the end of its tail but when I look up again every gull has a pure white tail. I’m start to think that I must have been mistaken but I must have seen a juvenile which – so my field guide tells me – does have a black band at the end of its tail. The colour of the feet and of the bill also vary between adults and juveniles.
It’s such a dull rainy afternoon and I’m sheltering in the car putting the wipers on a occasionally so I’m not seeing the birds in glowing colour. I have to admit that the green of the drake mallard’s head is really informed guesswork. In this light, to me it just looks dark.
I wind down the window to get a better view of the moorhens which are poddling around the muddy margins of the puddle, picking up scraps.