Sunday, November 11, 2007

Venue change - Ness Point seawatch

This jolly sight greeted me at Ness Point when I arrived at 07:30. The only Puffin seen during this seawatch.

Two Little Auks went past initially. Then I continued to stare through the scope seeing nothing until I glanced down at the rocks below and saw a small flock beneath me. After that the scope was abandoned and counting was steady. A Red-throated Diver and a Great Northern went south in this first period. After 40 minutes or so JB and Bev appeared and recommended a change of venue - a bigger gully further north. Not quite so sheltered but with a better view.

I hadn't been seawatching at Ness Point for a good few years but a northerly like today's would have been hard work at the Kettle, also Ness Point is much better for birds moving north. However, you are too high up really and monitoring close inshore and further out is hard work even with three observers.

The Little Auks seemed totally knackered and several were seen to be taken out of the air by the breakers. The gulls were quickly upon them, several only escaping by flying in over the rocks. Most were seen very close in, over the surf, only later were any numbers seen further out to sea. Little Auk total to 12:15 was 335 north and 17 south.

7 Great Northern Divers went north in singles apart from a pair that snuck past very close in, we nearly missed these two. We were pretty certain of our id but for one white headed bird, but this was the most distant. Again, because of the height it is not possible to see the belly profile of passing divers, a useful guide to White-billed I believe. I would be very, very cautious of claiming White-billed flying by. It would be necessary to see all the features, bill shape, head features and the body shape I reckon. Many Great Northern (several today) show a white bill. I have no field experience of White-billed in flight, I would think this would be essential to claiming one in flight unless it was very close / photographed. Hereby the cautionary tale endeth.

Various other bits and bats went by including a very nice 1st winter type Pomarine Skua which briefly hassled a Kittiwake before proceeding rapidly south. A two and this flock of Goldeneye. Some Wigeon, two small flocks of Common Scoter, the flock of 24 including another duck which we failed to id. 3 grey geese went south which we reckoned were not Pink-feet, possibly White-fronts. A Purple Sand snuck under the cliff. A few Red-throats, Guillemots, Razorbills, Gannets - but only a few.

Initially Kittiwakes were going north only close by but as the morning went on there was a constant stream of distant birds heading south.

Something weird was happening in P. aristotelis World (Shag World sounds a bit coarse somehow). Two singles went north then a flock of 25 went south followed by 4, 10, 1, and 3 all south.

As we walked back to Robin Hood's Bay 7 Pale-bellied Brents cruised north. A Stonechat popped up and that was enough.

Ness Point rainbow time.


East Ayton Birding said...

The pale-bellied Brents went past Scarborough Headland dead on 11.30am.

Alastair said...

They went past Whitburn later too

Boulmer Birder said...

Hi Alastair. Prior to today I have had two WB Diver fly bys both accepted by BBRC. One many moons ago past Hauxley on 1st Sept with three other birders and tother about two years ago had originally gone past Newbiggin and I got the call about 10 miles up the coats and twitched it flying past! Given reasonable distance they are very distinctive. The bill seems to disappear against sea glare giving a beakless head appearance sometimes!

Alastair said...

I made the comment on the blog because I think this species is seriously problematic. I'll actually reply on a blog page, bye for now.