08 August, 2011

Patience, Persistence, and A Huge Scope III

After careful consideration of the weather forecasts, especially the wind, I decided that if I wanted to score some good birds today, I needed to desert my Patch and ideally go to 'Gwarra. This being unfeasible due to idleness [and the cost of petrol it has to be said, and the unwillingness to put up with the vast horde doubtless to be present after the jamminess of saturday] [[Ok, so I admit it; I'm a lazy stingy antisocial git.]] I decided that the next best thing was my standard go-to when the weather ain't right for the Bay - Prawle.

To my shock [yes, shock - really wasn't expecting it] I was alone. Seriously, I'd have thought one Very Famous Devon Birder would be there, but nope. The car park was filling just as I arrived, and later I met a family clambering about the rocks [or rather, they met me], but no other birders. Anyways, I gave it a mighty 7 1⁄2 hours - stretched out due to seeing a juicy squall coming when I was originally going to stop at 1730.

The early blasting sunshine and surprisingly nippy wind eventually gave way to overcast as a series of squally showers scored direct hits, as opposed to stalking by a mile or so out in the Channel. I went from melting in the heat to putting on everything I had and wishing I'd brought more - this is, by the way, more proof that 'You can never be too prepared' is true. An almost horizon-wide sun-glare switched to white squalls [that last one especially was a doozy!] and back again before the cloud more or less won. The wind switched around, the swell picked up and then dropped almost flat in the murk at one point. Day of big contrasts.

It was a watch of patchy nothings, flurries of birds, and moments of shear delight. Pun very intentional. If you've read the Devon Bird News blog you'll know what's coming - at 1334 a Cory's Shearwater, that's what. 9 minutes from Start. I had a Sooty go by further out and very fast at 1454, and a total of 659 Manx - every single one west. Not one Balearic that I could see... I did get an education in shapeshifting, though; I saw what for several seconds looked and flew like a Swift, low over the sea. Only it wasn't a Swift, it was a Manxie! Angles and flight action, angles and flight action... Next time I see him, I owe [Cornish Birder] an apology.. Also past [all west unless stated] 14 LBBs [including one intermedius; an adult flying next to an adult graellsii, which was considerate of it], 9 Fulmar, one lone adult Kittiwake, a Whimbrel, 99 Gannets west and 23 east, and that's all she wrote.


The thing about seawatching is that sometimes you see things. No, I'm not being funny. Sometimes you see things and just go ".......Huh?!???" Sometimes you see something fly past and try as you might you can't get a proper look at it. Sometimes you get a really great look at it, draw it nicely and you still can't find out what in the name of purple petunias it was..

As for today, the bird that went by between 1228 and 1232 [I got on it very early, for once]... Well, I'm not going to bore you to tears with a detailed account. I'm not ticking it. One day, when I know more, I might go back to it, but right now it's a ?

I come back to this many years later, having actually seen what I thought I'd seen then. Knowing what I did then, my conclusion was very reasonable. But knowing what I do now, I know this was not what I thought it was.

Ok, enough talking around things. I thought it was a Fea's. It looked like one, it was marked like one, but it didn't fly like one was supposed to. But the conditions were not ones in which anyone had seen a Fea's [or at least reported it], so it was a grey area. I did the right thing and put a ?

In fact, while there is the slight possibility it was a Fea's, it was 99% likely to have been a Fulmar. I have since seen Fulmars show plumages which are effectively a match for pterodromas of several species, with more than one showing a near duplication of Fea's. This has never been publicised to my knowledge, [which is I suspect another of those things like 1w and fresh adult ReedBunt plumages; a trap for the masses.] and ought to be. Take the 2015 'cornish Kermadec'... 

Put a weird spin on the day, but that's seawatching folks! Go on, go try it for yourselves, you never know what might go past next. [[0 auks and 1 Kittiwake - wft was with that?!?!]]

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