Sunday, July 16, 2006

Birding under the influence

Flushed with enthusiasm for freezing my swonnicles atop the cliffs, I spent another couple of hours staring blankly offshore this evening. Well worth it for flights of hundreds of auks (3 spp) alone, and also lots of Puffins sat close inshore. Wasn't the shearwater-fest of yesterday, but 42 Manxies tonight going north is still half-decent (sad but true). :-( They were belting past too, with a SSW airstream behind them. I got really bored at times... there was a single Arctic Skua north and a single Great Skua south, but they didn't have the decency to spread themselves out. I was watching the Arctic Skua heading north after a Kittiwake, when the Great Skua went south through my field of view, so I tracked that and lost the Arctic. In less than a minute it was over, whereas if the Great Skua had held off a while I'd have had two minutes of relative pleasure instead of one. Don't knock it... with 2 li'l kids I have to snatch at any moment of pleasure that life affords. :-) Also 76 Northern Gannets errrr... north, 3 Arctic terns, south + 8 Common Scoters south. 2 female or imm Red-breasted Mergansers going south at the head of a line of Guillemots was another brief pleasure (surprisingly infrequent here, I only see them occasionally on seawatches), as were 6 Bar-tailed Godwits heading south with Curlews. Just as I was giving up to head back for hame, another pale skua came through heading directly towards me, and it looked Pom-my, and then it turned after a Kittiwake and it WAS a Pom! Fantastic! Nice adult. Smashed into the Kittiwake, just once, then carried on its way. I love it when a plan comes together.

I think the heavy storms we had a week or so ago took a heavy toll on Guillemot chicks. I mean it killed them, just to avoid any confusion. But today I saw my first of this year on the water, looking like a Little Auk next to its dad. Martin's top-tip for Sunday.... please do not report baby Guillemots to BirdGuides as Little Auks. They're not...they're baby Guillemots. I'd love to be the County Recorder reading those descriptions... ' The bird was estimated to be about half the size of the Guillemot with which it was associating...'. That's because it was a baby Guillemot. Oi! Dudes! Nooo!

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