Saturday, September 29, 2007

Desperate I was for the sea ...

Nice seawatch this morning. A bit of quality and lots to hold the interest.

A male Sproghawk greeted me as I arrived in the hamlet but it was a quiet walk down to the point. A Purple Sand was warming my seat (a tick for the patch I think, surprisingly). I had a bit of a swap around to shelter from the north-easterly and didn't initially get my position correct, I was seeing too many backsides disappearing into the yonder which made id harder than it needed to be for a while. However, before I sorted that out, or really had a chance to get settled a bird went east with which I really struggled. This very occasionally seems to happen at the beginning of a seawatch. Chances are, of course, it's just a common species that because of getting used to the light and the sea conditions and lack of initial organisation I see 'wrongly'. Let's face it the chances of tropicbird past Kettleness are a bit slim to say the least (very white but chunky seabird, distinctly elongated, though no actual tail streamers, black wedges in the very white upper wing, black around the head but this was hard to see as it was going away east of me, couldn't see the bill) sounds like a Rosy and maybe it was a late one but the proportions and flight didn't seem right and I thought this was a big bird. Anyway its gone now and if it was a tropicbird I completely ****ed it up.

All in all I had a bit of a bad start really. Even without the 'tropicbird debacle' what with the unfamiliar seating position and getting myself orientated correctly. Some divers went east early on and the front two were very likely Black-throats but I just failed to get on to them properly and then there were a couple of skuas and the second one was a Pom .... pobably. I stick all these bits and bats in the note book, with quick descriptions sometimes, (and these days I sometimes blog them too) but they're things best forgotten really, or at least put down to experience but not put down as a species record. The thing about seawatching is when stuff happens it often happens quickly, and inevitably several interesting things often seem to happen at once. Today, for example, I was on a fairly distant flock of ducks at x45, 3 Velvet Scoter and 3 Wigeon going west and this monster of a Great Northern fills the view flying virtually over the rocks.

Anyway what did I see? Star bird was a very nice sub-adult Long-tailed Skua heading east and conveniently showing off all its best features, upper tail coverts and all. 11 Velvet Scoter; 93 Common Scoter; 51 Teal; 31 Wigeon; 4 Brent Goose (dark-bellied ones); 18 Red-throated Diver; the afore mentioned Great Northern Diver; 1 Shag; 11 Cormorants; 1 Manx Shearwater; 1 Sooty Shearwater; 4 Arctic Skua; 3 Little Gull; 1 Arctic Tern; 5 Common Tern; 900 Gannet west and 150 east from sample counts and Kittiwakes were about 30. About 10 Common Gulls was an increase. I didn't bother to count the auks as they were about equal flying each way and they were next to impossible to pick out properly on quite a heavy sea. An interesting wader went west close that was either a Ruff or something rarer but it was gone in a moment and although it was close it defied certain id. There was a 0 Fulmar count. Rock Pipit and Alba wag were on the point with the seat warming Purple Sandpiper.

As I walked back there were a few Mepits grounded below the cliff and in the hamlet 80 or so Linnet, 250 Starling and 30 House Sparrow. The railway line produced a small Goldcrest fall of about 20 and 2 Lesser Whitethroat plus a Redwing. And then I walked to Runswick Bay.

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