28 December, 2012

Responsible Birding

I have been Good and responsible and so forth and stayed on't Patch the last two days. No venturing out into the Great Flooded Unknown for me, oh no.

Yesterday I made a concerted effort to locate any lurking Waxwings that may be about. Needless to say, I failed miserably. The gulls in the Harbour were not even interestingly odd Herrings and only the odd Razorbill was on the sea. Best bird on land? Goldcrest. The evening roost off Blackball wasn't up to the previous days' numbers, with 850+ large gulls and 24 GC Grebes [at least there were some grebes...]

Today I had planned  to get some stuff done before having some fun tomorrow, but events have occurred and now all that's out the window.. :( I did manage to get out late afternoon and salvaged something by trying a seawatch from LongQuarry - Walls Hill's headland. This is something I've wondered about over the years - would it be any good? Well back, true, but close enough to lug kit to on foot and maybe more birds hug the coast than is obvious at the Nose? Now I had the weather to try it out when I wasn't busy seawatching somewhere else!

I watched from a sheltered nook on the head, not from down on LongQuarry Point itself, I must hasten to add, as the descent is suicidal inadvisable even when it isn't raining sideways*...
I only had time for half an hour, and while I could see the Nose and Ore Stone, it was clear that being two headlands back [though more than 200' higher] was indeed a bit of a disadvantage. [[Shock!]]
Gannets 47
Kittiwakes 39
Fulmars 7
Auks 4
The auks were definitely 'auk sp.'! As were the 7 I could see on the Ore Stone - though in sunlight I'd be able to call Guille vs Raz on colour.

It is a very easy spot to get to, with [assuming you stay clear of the edge] a definite lack of risk to life and limb, plus no steep slopes to climb. The view up to the north is spectacular and you can see the main passage line clearly. You just need a little visibility and a huge scope. Good for a Questar. :) One big advantage is the view of what's sheltering in the lee of the land. The 1w GND with the pale nape [as seen at the Nose on Saturday - it does stand out] was off Anstey's and I got a wonderful look-down on it. I also got a great view of the Blackball roost, so much so that I only moved as far as the Memorial Viewpoint to count.

Wowser... 3000 Kittiwakes!!! I couldn't believe my eyes, it was like a carpet of dinky little gulls. Amazing.. [The high angle meant I couldn't do an accurate scope count - there was no way to be sure I wasn't overlapping in the massive spread out flocks - so I counted and recounted in 50's and 100's]. This was in addition to 800+ Herring [I could pick them out but they kept coming and coming from onshore] and 105+ GBB. It was an incredible sight, especially when the setting sun suddenly caught the clouds and illuminated the sea in a wonderful rosy glow [though that did bugger any more attempts at a count..]. The grebes? There were 4.

Birds, eh?

[[*Then it's only bloody dangerous. Didn't stop a couple of crazy brave fishermen, though.]]

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