Saturday, October 04, 2008

Seawatching okish

Four hours sat near Ness Point was quite hard work. I was about to pack up after two hours when the Halifax crew arrived so I stayed to be sociable and saw a few more birds.

I've done very little seawatching this year so I'm well out of practice but the 3 then 4 Pink-footed Geese going north were close enough. Not sure what they thought they were doing, that's the wrong way guys. The later Barnacles, a 5 and then a high 2 were just that awkward distance and it was surprisingly hard to see the features on them; they also headed north. Harder still was the adult looking skua that went north shortly after the Barnacles, I'll make the excuse I was late to get on to it but with a strong tail wind it was confusingly intermediate between Arctic and Pom and of course it was distant. There was a bit of banter about this bird with some of us favouring Arctic and some Pom.

Probably the worst photo I've posted ... showing inshore juvenile Gannets (really)

An interesting feature of the seawatch were the increasing numbers of Gannets going north. I counted just over 1,000 in the four hours with most of the juveniles close inshore and the adults, almost without exception, distant. They started off at about 150 an hour and got up to around 320 an hour. There have been a couple of inland records today, perhaps unsurprising with so many inexperienced birds moving in a strong SW wind.

Also seen: 4 Wigeon, 1 Great Northern Diver, 13 Red-throated Divers, 1 Manx Shearwater, 1 Merlin, 1 Peregrine, 1 Lesser Black-backed Gull, 3 Great Skuas and at least 3 but possibly 7 Puffins.

2 Sandwich Terns passed as we looked for passerines in Rain Dale before heading off - no passerines to speak of.

Absentees were Fulmar, they are uncommon in October and Kittiwake.

One of the crew glimpsed a fairly distant Minke Whale, no doubt one of the many that have been hanging around just off Whitby this last ten days or so.

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