Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Hear the rime of the ancient mariner...

...see his eyes as he stops one of three. Mesmorises one of the wedding guests: 'Stay here and listen to the nightmare of the sea!' bam badabam badabam badabadhh! etc.

Much as I have to grab my birding opportunities whenever I can between working and looking after my lovely family, quarter to six in the morning is becoming increasingly impractical. There I was at the clifftops at 05:40 and IT'S STILL DARK!!! Pre-dawn, at least, but even so there are Manx Shearwaters on the go, and a Sooty Shearwater. Game on and eyes down! Not much breeze, but eye-boggling Northern Gannets going backwards and forwards, and lots of things to look at. Short of time, so will cut to the chase.... 05:40-07:06, 581 Northern Gannets (456N), 102 Black-legged Kittiwakes n, 50 Manx Shearwaters N and 4 S, 15 Sooty Shearwaters north, 15 Commic Terns (11N), 7 Arctic Terns S, 12 Common Scoter (10N), 1 Velvet Scoter N, 5 Eurasian Teal, 14 Red-throated Divers (13 N), 3 Great Skuas, 2 Arctic Skuas N, and 28 Annoying Small Waders.

1 Minke Whale surfaced, also a Harbour Porpoise and an un-ID'd dolphin sp., that was prob Bottle-nosed or maybe White-beaked.

This was definitely a day to stay on and do more, but unfortunately it was the University's Open Day and I was obliged to go and tell people what a fantastic place it is to study Biomedical Sciences. It IS fantastic, btw, if you're thinking of doing it. We kick butt. But I was hearing during the day of all sorts of goodies turning up on east coast seawatches. There are Great Shearwaters in the North Sea, if you believe everything you read on BirdGuides, which I do.

Once my contractual obligations were fulfilled, I popped back in for a look at to sea on my way home. So arrived at the clifftop carpark and Sh*tG*dDamnH*llF*ck there are 3 Northern Wheatears sitting on the rocks. That beats my weekend total and mmmmm.... passerine migration. Now I had a choice - trees or sea, but the lure of those Great Shearwaters was too much. So from 16:15 to 17:45, still without much weather, the gannet and kittiwake action was slacker (68 Northern Gannet N, 6S; 48 Black-legged Kittiwake N, 25 S), but the Sooties were still coming through... 25 Sooty Shearwaters N, and 1 zig-zagging south, just to be different. Fight the War F*** the Norm, and all that. I've gone very sweary again tonight. Only 6 Manx Shearwaters north... but one group of 2 was carrying another Balearic Shearwater with them! Ka-ChowWWW! A mile+ distant, but clear contrast between black-and-white duo and brown and buff singleton, in a close pack. A Pomarine Skua adult went north (good!), also 3 Arctic Skuas and I tried to string a Long-tailed Skua going south, but couldn't quite do it. It was distant, but looked small and very airy... but a juv, so more difficult to prove. Forget about it.

5 Arctic Terns and 6 Common Terns south, a female Common Eider with 3, 6/8 juvs on the water, and a raft of 5 juvenile Atlantic Puffins looking lost. What's the matter... did Mummy and Daddy leave you? Shouldn't have been such a bloody pain then, should you? This is a salutory lesson for any other small boys and girls who insist on demanding comics every time we go into a newsagent. Not that I have anyone in mind.

No Great Shears or Sab's Gulls though, so I can only conclude that the ones everyone else saw were stringy :-) note smileys again. Pretty happy with what I got today, but the patch year list has stalled, so I'm going to have to induce a few of those Great Juv Gannet Shearwaters, Cory's Fulmars, Black-legged Sabine's Gulls and Long-tailed Arctic Skuas for myself. :-O Even a Roseate Sandwich Tern would do. Argh... quick nurse, more smilies before I'm lynched.

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