Sunday, July 30, 2006

Seventh Son of a Currant Bun

Newtonhill has been fog-bound for the last week, pretty much. Got up early this morning and saw it wasn't too bad out there, so headed for a walk round the patch and a bit of a seawatch. Patch was quiet. As I went down to the cliffs.... hmmm, the harr was a bit thicker down here... a bit of a seawatch, and I could see a bit of the sea, the bit that was very close to the land. Visibility was down to 100 m, which is bad even for my attempts at recording seabird passages. Still saw a few 'pairs' of Sandwich tern ad + juv, a Common Tern, and a couple of juvvy Razorbills, and a few Common Gulls. Resolved to come back later when the harr had burnt off.

btw thanks to Menzie for pointing out this thread on BirdForum
Oi! No!

Got back later, and there's a fresh southerly wind, and I can see for miles (hurrah!) but (boo!) there's a bit of heat haze. It starts off slow (a Manx Shearwater south, and a few Gannets). In fact I start to think maybe I'm facing the wrong way. Then it occurs to me there's a bit of a passage of Common Gulls going on - normally I'd see a couple and won't bother mentioning it. But between 17.45 and 1900, there's 52 gone south, and probably more cos they were very close in and over my head with a stream of Kittiwakes, so when it was eyes down for distant goodies, I would have missed a lot of them. Nealry all adults and only a couple of juvs. Other things, another Manx Shearwater (that makes 2... glad I didn't leave my tally counter at home :-$), 2 Great Skuas north and one south. Actually, it was one adult south, one north, then one south in wide looping arcs.... let's face it, it was probably the same bird, but I'll record it as 3 not 1, otherwise I have to start playing guessing games with everything else too, and life's too short. 37 Gannets south, 2 north, 4 Common Terns south, 7 Arctic Terns and 19 'commics'. Many apologies for my appalling id rate on the terns, but the heat haze was very bad.... errrr... and actually I'm blind so I had to identify them in braille.

There were loads of waders heading south too - don't you just hate waders on seawatches? Apart from phalaropes. I thought I had a phalarope this evening, but it was a jizz id in the haze, so will never mention it again; got away. And it would have been a patch tick too. 6 Sanderlings . 3 Whimbrel*, 15 Curlews, 9 Redshanks, 80 Oystercatchers and 4 'small unidentified waders'. I looked up
'small unidentified waders' in Shorebirds, but can't find them. eh?

3 White-beaked Dolphins - my first of the autumn. Huzzah! and twenty pounds for the King! Lovely. Not birds though. August is our peak month for them, so looking forward to dolphin-fest.

*Little known fact... Whimbrels (in their colloquial guise of 'seven-whistlers') are one of the few species of bird to appear in Iron Maiden's back catalogue of noisy head-banging songs. From the album 'Seventh Son of a Seventh Son', can't remember the name of the song but it goes something like

Suffering and pain, impending disaster
Souls cry, the devil's laughter
Heard the cry of the seven-whistlers
Lucifer smiles, and hell awaits

tbh, I can't remember if Lucifer smiles or Lucifer cries. Either way, it's probably not good news. That I remember this much at all is probably not a good thing. I was a teenage dirtbag baby...

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