Sunday, April 22, 2007

Kettleness today

A plan to bird Kettleness first thing was executed but only just. Kept awake by sore throat and cold symptoms I really didn't fancy it at all when I discovered the wind was from the SW and cold. But the "Fight them on the beaches" spirit prevailed and I arrived unenthusiastic at the hamlet at 6. Greeted by a Wheatear I felt a bit more optimistic - after all Boulby had a R-rSwallow yesterday. The scramble down to the seawatch point encountered a few "things that flicked away" and a bundle of Mepits and once out of the lee of the cliff the wind was mighty unpleasant. The Thermarest chair was inflated and folded without undue mishap - ie it didn't fly off to join the waves, and I settled down to one of those "1 of everything" kind of seawatches. 1 Black-headed Gull, 1 Common Scoter, 1 Red-b Merg, 1 mystery bunting noise coming from here and there for a couple of minutes before it took itself off to wind some other birder up somewhere else. Also 1 Shelduck and 1 unidentified* diver and 1 Harbour Porpoise. Ok there were 2 of Canada Goose and Manx Shearwater and Swallow and Cormorant and several of Gannet, Razorbill and Goldfinch (which with Linnet seemed to be "on the move") and there were lots of Guillemot, Fulmar, Kittiwake, HG, CG and GB-bG. There were also lots of mepits heading NW high - probably 25 or so in the hour which with the Goldfinches and Linnets was "interesting".

As well as being annoyed by Invisible Bunting I was also annoyed by a putative Mr Bigfeet*. Why is it that during a quiet seawatch lasting 60 minutes 2 or 3 interesting things happen in 1 minute? - it'll be statistic's fault. So as I locked on to the two very distant Manxies and followed them west to make sure that's what they really were this huge monster of a goose diver appears even more distantly behind them at the point that they were a good bit past me. Could I see the feet properly or the head shape? Nooo. So apparently large diver, no plumage detail, distinctive wing beat (but into a blustery breeze), thick neck, couldn't really get a view of the feet, shouldn't be ided - but of course it was Mr Bigfeet, but it won't go on BirdTrack as such. So two divers this week no Red-throat, no id but they were almost certainly a Black-th and a Gt Northern but I can't have the satisfaction of a proper id. I do like a proper id.

Back to Kettleness. After an hour I was cold so I waited an extra minute or two and got the Shelduck (3rd rule of seawatching: a good bird always turns up 47 seconds after you've stopped - so I always stay a few minutes beyond the end of each hour, crafty eh?) and headed back up the cliff. Another Wheatear flicked away, more grounded Mepits. Once under the lee of the main cliff two more Wheatear and a pair of Stonechat were found. Up on the ex-railway line Willow Warbler, Swallow, Sparrowhawk and prize of the day (perhaps) a singing Tree Sparrow. But that was it, I was cold, the sore throat was rampant the rain was starting (good for birding, bad for me) and it was time to depart.

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