Friday, August 24, 2007

Seawatching yesterday

View from the Kettle

Teal go by

That was a bit more like it. The first hour from 06:30 was pretty good and then things slowed right down until the end but it was a much more entertaining experience.

The first few minutes produced a distant posse of 5 skuas going down (east). I decided to ascribe these to the sp designation in the vague hope they might have been Long-tails. In reality I saw them pretty poorly and they were distant. Then a few large flocks of Common Terns went down too. Next up were some distant but definite Arctic Skuas. Then a Soot and then another one. In the meantime there were Teal and Common Scoter and stacks of Common Terns and a pile of Gannets feeding just offshore. A trickle of Manxies went by.

Things improved again when 6 Scoter went past the front two being neat, drake Velv's. Wigeon, Red-th Diver and Bonxie put in cameo appearances. A Shelduck went by. 2 Ringed Plover tried to sneak past under the cliff but I was far too sharp for them.

And then it all, slooowwwed down.

The feeding Common Terns that were offshore (a long, long way offshore - x45 and eyes on stalks) in gangs slowly moving west were gradually replaced by Kitts. These feeding flocks did repay closer observation and I managed to find 3 Little Gulls and an Arctic Tern. I strongly suspected Roseatte Tern but just couldn't nail it. (Elsewhere up the coast these flocks produced Sabine's Gulls but not for me today.) All stayed quiet until about 10:15 when another Soot and 2 Bonxies appeared and 2 juvenile Arctic Skuas (my first confirmed juvs of the year) rattled past close inshore.

Walking back up the cliff 4 Wheatear hinted at some passerine business going on ..... and shiver me timbers what's this at the top of the cliff; a birder (seawatching from the car parking area) - pleasantries were exchanged but I was in shock truth to tell.

Common Terns had totalled 211 and with but one Arctic confirmed that was a significant change. There were but 14 Sandwich Terns so they've all popped off somewhere, it will be interesting to see if they return. Gannet were reckoned at more than 800 and the usual couple of hundred auks were offshore, the majority being Guillemots from what I could discern.

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