Sunday, November 11, 2007

Errr... witty title... lots of Little Auks?

I hate Manchester United. Can't help it, always have done. I'd rather have a threesome with Margaret Thatcher and John Prescott (US readers, think Ross Perot and, errr... Nancy Reagan?) than watch the team in red. But something that Sir Alex of Fergiescum once said was true. Actually two things, the irrelevant one being 'Football, Bloody Hell!', which I hope he never has occasion to say again. The other one was when ManU PLC had won the championship, maybe at the end of the nineties sometime, and the ever intrusive Sky TV cameras went into the dressing room to see them popping the champagne and whatever other indecent acts occur in there. He told his team to enjoy the occasion, cos days like this don't come round very often. That was true.

Depends where you were how many you saw, but 10000's of Little Auks along the east coast today - fantastic spectacle. These mass movements where you get the weather, predict the birds, get the birds, and then the birds fly away again. Better than any rarity. Nearly. Days like this don't come round that often. Just enjoy it when it happens - it's what you work for.

Another thing someone once said that was true, except it wasn't ()eh?#). A Gambian bird tour guide, on holiday in Britain, enjoying his birding, not very impressed with the weather, but noted that 'If you have the birds, you do not get cold.' Which is true, except he wasn't talking about seawatching from an Aberdeenshire clifftop in November.

Which brings me to
an Aberdeenshire clifftop in November. I'd learnt my lesson from yesterday... no more Arthur Dent clobber for me, this time I was fully kitted out in my velvet smoking jacket, cummerband and frilly shirt ( a bit Jon Pertwee as third Doctor Who). I didn't go seawatching straight away this morning - first had a very boring look round the Mill garden and bushes near the beach, scoring nothing apart from the usual residents. A Mistle Thrush on wires above Cow Field was pretty noteworthy - they've been very scarce this year and it was probably one on the move.

So, it had been a brisk NW overnight... predicting Little Auks, unfortunately for me that is an offshore wind, so not expecting 1000s, but I was pleased to get hundreds. They came in dribs and drabs from about 09:00, with 150 in the first hour, then there was 10 minutes when it went mad and about 300 came through ahead of a freezing sleet shower (ref. error of Gambian bird guide). 577 in total in 2 hours. 67 Razorbills and Guillemots (mostly Razorbills when I could tell) and 3 Atlantic Puffins, coming through, all north. 4 Great Northern Divers (Loons) went great north, and 2 Red-throated Divers south. 36 Northern Gannets, 4 Common Scoters, 1 Velvet Scoter, 3 Common Goldeneyes and 4 Mallards, all north.

One of the local Peregrine Falcons was out and about roasting the passing Little Auks. Not 'roasting' as in 'Sunderland footie players on video'-type, but splitting them up and trying to eat them-type. Didn't seem to have any success - the Little Auks were low enough that they could splash down and be out of the way. The local Great Black-backed Gulls on the other hand are so fat they can hardly move.

8 comments:

Mark said...

We had the same weather related surge of little auks at girdleness today....like you say, those 10 mins were great stuff!

Like you also say.....it was f^£(** freezing, but you don't notice it until the birds dry up

Martin said...

What do you think are my chances of getting a fly-by Brunnich's Guillemot past BBRC? Seems like my only chance of catching up with jammy Girdlenessers! ;-)

Boulmer Birder said...

Baltic! I could have done with a foil blanket wrapped around me later...

DeesidedlyBirds said...

quite good yesterday too at Girdleness, Collieston and Peterhead, although the birds were well out to sea.

Harry said...

Hi Doc,
1) I approve of quoting Alex Ferguson...
2) Surely it would be more practical, for winter seawatching, to dress less like Jon Pertwee's Doctor, and more like Tom Baker's...thinking of the benefits of such a long scarf for keeping warm, not to mention a nice long coat.
3) Nice one on the Little Auks, we don't really get many here, unless they get wrecked.

Martin said...

I think it should be compulsory for all birders to dress like their favourite incarnation of Dr Who. It would give the local newspapers something to photograph every time there was a twitch.

John said...

Having never seen even one Little Auk (Dovekie Dovekie Dovekie!) I am filled with envy.

Of course the look would be incomplete without Pertwee's permed silver curls...

Boulmer Birder said...

I look like Davros when I'm out, does that count?