Sunday, September 02, 2007

Death and sex

That wasn't going to be the title of today's blog... I arrived at the clifftops at 06:24 and after 10 mins had seen 2 gannets and a kittiwake and it was all looking pretty shit in a westerly breeze. I was going to call this the 'Green Withens Tribute Seawatch' in honour of the lack of birds. Then a couple of Grey Herons flew past, landing on the rocks, and as I raised the scope up from them, I noticed a black dorsal fin a couple of miles out... then 3, then 4 fins, and I was a bit perplexed but eventually saw a bit of a grey saddle and enough to suggest they were probably White-beaked Dolphins. And there was even a Grey Seal and a flock of 20 Common Eiders within striking range... I really hoped they were going to eat the lot. But after about 10 min I lost them, and they didn't reappear.

Suddenly this seemed like a decent seawatch. And what it lacked in numbers, it went on to make up for with a good species mix. No shearwaters this morning, 06:24- 08:00, 2 Great Skuas north and 2 south, and 2 Arctic Skuas (Parasitic) south together with one more sat on the water. 13 Red-throated Divers went south, and one of them was accompanied by a Black-throated Diver (Arctic Loon) - Ka-chow! It's easy when they're together.
The passage of terns continues... 68 Sandwich Terns south, with 4 A
rctic Terns and 2 Common Terns and hello - wassat - an adult Roseate Tern heading the same way, nonchalent as you like. Nice and white, with that awkward stiff flight action they sometimes pull off. I don't mind telling you, although perhaps I shouldn't, that I often feel carnal lust at the very thought of Roseate Terns. They're the only birds I know that pout, and they have a naughty come-hither glint in their eyes. If you don't believe me, Google a few images. There... NOW you see what I mean. Just get behind me in line, OK? A patch tick it goes without saying.

146 Common Gulls (Mew Gulls) went south. I guess that must be a passage, but I'm still not sure what;s going on. 196 Northern Gannets north and 25 south, with 7 Black-legged Kittiwakes north, 6 south. 6 Common Scoters south, 2 Eurasian Teals north, and 15 annoying small waders south. One of the waders was almost certainly that Red-necked Stint ;-)
that I'd promised Harry I was fully confident in my ability to string. It was certainly the day for surprises, and I was surprised to see a Black Guillemot fly past (less than annual in Newtonhill), and even more surprised to see another one take off from the water where it had been hiding in a small raft of Guillemots (Common Murres) and Razorbills. And a female-type Red-breasted Merganser going north would have been another unusuality, were that a real word.

So that was quite stimulating (I'm back on the Roseate Tern), and I once the excitement had gone down I went out again at 18:25, and THEN I got my Green Withens tribute seawatch, cos by then (to 19:10) everything had gone quiet. 3 Manx Shearwaters north and 1 south were the ?highlight?. Otherwise, 2 more Red-throated Divers, 70 Northern Gannets (64N), and ... y'know, I can't be bothered with this... ! NOt much else, anyway.

A walk out to the beach with the family mid-afternoon produced this magnificent specimen of another Short-tailed Vole.
It had been a bit flattened. The Range Rover suspected perp was parked nearby.

So, the most appropriate recipe... I sauted it gently, wrapped it in a savourry crepe with a merest whisper of Marmite and Worcester sauce, accompanied by a cheap Chardonnay. Perfick. Admit it, some of you were tempted too, until I mentioned Marmite.

1 comment:

Harry said...

Hi Doc,
I'm getting suspicious of your abilities to find dead mammals now: did you have a fateful life-changing accident in the lab one day where you were scrawled by a radioactive Red Kite that you were trying to get DNA from, leaving you with keen eyesight, a 'sixth sense' for finding roadkill and other kite-related powers...?
Nice one on the Red-necked Stint! ;-)