09 October, 2011

Sea Watching

Note the significant space, there.

What to do, what to do? Strong wind and gunky stuff had been forecast and seemed to be on the cards, at least out of t' Moor's lee, anyway. The tides were feeling intransigent. I toyed with going up on't Moor anyway - it'd be nice and empty of all but howling wind and sideways rain up there, after all - but I just wasn't in the mood. Standard default applies. I went to Prawle.

Upon climbing up to the Point, I got a shock, I can tell you. I can't remember the last time I turned up to find someone else there seawatching. It was a long long time ago... [Three Devon Birders] had had a few good birds before I could drag myself on site, including all 3 flavours of Diver. Having been told it had pretty much died, the first bird I got onto was a very nice light morph Arctic Skua. Sadly, this was not quite the omen I hoped it was. It got sunnier and sunnier and my companions departed for places with birds, that could be seen.

I, having a flask of coffee and being fond of taking the Persistence bit a long long way, stayed put. The sun eventually went away and it got all gungy - it looked pretty good - but the hoped for passage never materialised. Drat. Not all drat, though. Yet another Hobby flew past [[How many is that this year now??!?]] and a female Merlin went for one of the Rockits that had been hanging around looking cute - judging by how seriously she was chasing it, and how only one was evident afterwards, I fear the Rockit got it. [[Sorry]] Star bird came by when it was still quite sunny - indeed the sun shining through the famous white bits was how I picked it up; a juvenile Sabine's Gull passed west at 1146. Took a bit of work though, as the same sun meant a long wait until it was in a position to definitely rule out juv. Kitt [though the structure and flight action looked very good, its always best to be careful as there are some odd Kitts out there]. Fortunately it eventually flew into some nice light and showed itself off, though by this time it was too far around for sustained enjoyment. It also met up with a small group of Kittiwakes, including a juvenile, and the two briefly flying side by side was a lovely few seconds. :D

5 Bonxies, 2 Arctics, 2 mid-sized skua spp. and a small skua sp. [only range prevented that last from being called a Long-tail; it looked really good]*, 7 Balearics and a single Manxie, 114 auks [mostly Razorbills], 35 Kittiwakes [5 of which were juveniles], and a light passage of Gannets may not seem that bad at first glance, but this is over more than 6 hours. Oh boy it was very very dead for long periods. Just the odd small group of auks to try to id. This was a fair challenge, its true. Also passing vessels to look at, most notably Runway 06 which went steaming by west before later heading back towards portsmouth...

[[*Who says you never get skuas at Prawle? ;) ]]

What do you do when all you're watching is the sea? I like to play Name That Ship, though some of the puns people paint on the backs of their yachts.... Urgh. I also just like to sit there, watching the waves, being sheltered from the elements, feeling the headland vibrating. Soothing, that's what it is.

I came home via Slapton - the wind blasting over the Ley had the gull roost mostly tucked into Ireland Bay [I gave them a quick grill but saw nothing more notable than LBBs], with any ducks further in still. Her Ladyship was in the process of flying off as I arrived, but a Cetti's called from near the Higher Ley, so that was good. .

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