Monday, July 14, 2008

Midgie hell

Sunday 13th July

Saturday was very windy with a southerly force 5-6 (July!), but today dawned calm - gonna be rubbish for shearwaters, but the sort of day that is better for skuas. Sometimes. Maybe.

And so it proved to be, sometimes, maybe. Diane kicked, yes kicked, me out of bed and I had 2 hours at the cliffs, from05:40 to 07:40, when I gratefully gave up in the knowledge that I'd served my time. On a flat sea, 5 Arctic Skuas went north, 1 south, and 3 Great Skuas north. Not burning up... but at least it was a good sort of sea for cetacean watching, if you include 2 Harbour Porpoises out fishing. Ony 13 Manx Shearwaters north, with 139 Northern Gannets, and 42 gannet south too. A massive feeding flock of gannets on the horizon - in fact I think they were over the horizon(!), but certainly up to 1000 birds out there. Ducks n' stuff... oooh, 46 Common Scoters north, and a Red-throated Diver too. OK, so it's a dog-day doldrum and you think that maybe your bonus bird might be a European Storm-petrel, which I still ned for the patch list, and this is the day for it.... so this is a really bad day for a passage of hirundines to start low over the water. But still they come, and the first 15 Sand Martins (Bank Swallows) of the autumn head south.

Other thingies. Some more birds. The tern families have started turning up - with 37 Sandwich Terns kicking about, 26 Arctic Terns, 8 Common Terns. Piles of auks going all ways, including many Atlantic Puffins, all local breeders, probably.

Walk round the patch was a bit boring, tbh, but with taking Monday off as well, I made a mental note to try again tomorrow.

Tomorrow.. (today) Monday 14th July 08.

I was too busy doing very important and secret things last night to blog away. So turned up at the cliffs this morning to find a slight offshore wind and a nasty high contrast sea, and all the birds have left me. Not all of them, mind - three cheers for the 62 Northern Gannets that went north from 06:10-07:10, and a big round of applause for the other 104 who went south. 3 Arctic Skuas today, 2N 1S, and the Sand Martin migration continued, just (3S). Also a single Red-throated Diver and that's the lot.

Got my copy of Frontiers in Birding, by Martin Garner and friends, of which I'm one.

And another thing, goddammit, it's midgie hell down at the clifftops just now. I'm looking forward to escaping from the midgies, on err... Skye... next weekend,


Harry said...

Hi Martin,
ESCAPING midges on SKYE??? News to me, I encountered several up there three years ago...

Martin said...

Strange... I asked the nice man at the Scottish Tourist Board whether there were any midges on Skye, and when he stopped laughing he told me absolutely not. He couldn't be lying?