Hope's Nose on Wednesday had to be done. Being on nights, I had the choice of going down there first thing or late afternoon. Seeing how much it was raining when I got in from the night before, and looking at the clearance forecast for said afternoon, I chose the latter.
Said clearance didn't show up until near dark - judging by the weather as I got to work! - but ye gods it was good down there anyway!
The weather was pretty much spot-on for storm petrels at the Nose, with a slick well-produced but now spreading out, and gunk and wind enough to let the little darlings come in, with wind blowing just about offshore enough to fill much of Lyme Bay with 'come hither' aroma.. ;)
Bird passage was.. different. I could only give it 2.5 hours, and in that time I had.. wait for it.. 13 Manxies! 13.. Ye Gods..
I suspect they were out in the gloom. I did get 2 Balearics - who often pass closer in - and certainly no big shears..
Contrast 127 Gannets, 192 Kittiwakes, 24 Fulmars.
Time for some drama!
The Arctic had noticed some Kittiwakes, but the juvie Peg, who had been sallying forth to 'play' with various unlucky birds [including one of the Sarnies, who just flew straight down into the sea, vexing the falcon!], noticed it, and one hell of a dogfight ensued! There was no contact, and no seeming intent [thus the 'playing'], but things got even more interesting when two more Arctics showed up and joined in: Furball! [So those shots are not all of the same skua, btw]
Yes, that's a Stormy there - one I missed! I am in shock; one of my pictures was actually useful....
Speaking of storm petrels, no less than 20 showed up, coming in to the smell of the SWBCM and usually foraging in its periphery before moving on. Well, mostly, as I'm pretty sure a low-flying Peg nailed one! :O
One of the EUSPs was quite fun, as it seemed to have a dark underwing and to be in inner primary moult.. After much watching and no little cursing, it eventually gave a lovely view as it banked, showing it did have white covert tips, just not many of them and those small! I guess a well-worn one, no doubt the starting moult not a co-incidence.
Speaking of funky birds, quite a variety on display..
A Big Bad Bonxie scragged a Kitt and moved on, there were7 Turnstone, 2 Swift in/off, 6 Oyks, 3 Arctic Tern [together] and 29 Common Tern [also one flock!], with 3 Sarnies lingering and fishing in the slick. Lone BHG and LBBs were the only non-standard gulls.
The wind was vexing to annoying, twisting and gusty, pushing SE at times; never fun when you're wrangling a bumbleshoot and trying to track twisty storm petrels, let alone attempting photos! Why are you not seeing little dark blobs?
Simple; every single one of my shots clean missed. That one up there, the fluke I didn't even know about? Yeah.. Oh well. I think I'm going to stick to 'no photos unless it's inside the Lead Stone, or conditions are perfect and I can use two hands'. Very annoying when you get something you really want to be on camera, but what can I do? It would take a serious piece of kit to nail birds well at even half Manxie range, and I have not the money, or indeed the ability to tote such a thing [without sacrificing my scope, which renders birding moot imho].
Blathering aside, there was a lot of pain of various kinds, but the gain was, well, brilliant.
Tearing myself away to go get ready for work was not easy.
What a year, eh?
And still it's only early August... What next??
[[Albatross! Albatross! Albatross!... Ahem]]
Be Seeing You..