05 August, 2013

A Windy Showery Weekend. Part 2, More Wind

I thought about going to 'gwarra.

All this nonsense with Fea's Petrels all over the place was a spur, yes, but I like to get there now and again. It's an interesting change of scenery, a trip that more than a little resembles a pilgrimage [especially when The Bridges are out of effective reach], and there's the oh-so-slim-but-still-there chance of things that begin with F.. Fin Whale!!!  :D
Hell, Fea's is possible from the Nose [[Oh, one day. One Glorious day....]] but a Fin Whale? Forget it.

Anyway, yes, I thought about 'gwarra. The forecast put me off - it implied the fun would kick in at about 0600, which with the whole 'having to get down there' thing meant I'd have next to no sleep, and two long drives on grockle-infested roads. "Sod it. I'll go later, when I can pick a handier front on a quieter day."

I can see what would have happened. I'd have been there in time for the Fea's [about 9, I think it was?] and not been able to get on it. Yes, shedloads of big shears and a Long-tail, but being there and missing? It hurts just to consider it.

But this is all beside the point. Yesterday I did seawatch from my beloved Hope's Nose and I gave it 9 whole hours. I didn't start at dawn, as the weather hadn't arrived and I figured I ought to save my coffee for the forecast afternoon front-thing. [Also a bit more sleep is never unwelcome!]
How went the day? I had a fine old time! Only had the bumbleshoot up twice, the rest of the rain being drizzle that I took on the silly hat [which is basically a mini-brolly and reaches out just nicely to keep my eyepiece dry!]. I was able to set up and stay on The Steps - just about, thankfully the wind didn't kick up hard before it got W of S - and while the SWBCM didn't kick in, there was a lot of something in the water that kept a posse of gulls and even some passing Common Terns happy.

Looking at the scores from Berry, Start, and Prawle I did.. Ok. 692 shearwaters isn't bad, is it?

Bird of the Day was the Great Shearwater. As seems to be a developing tradition, I very nearly missed it! I had just pulled on an extra layer [I was half expecting blazing sunshine in the morning] and turned the scope southwards to check if any sneaky birds had slipped by. I wasn't really expecting there to be anything, as I'd checked right up to due north beforehand, but you always make sure. Ooh, there's a group of Manxies heading o-SHIT! Big Shear! Whammed it up to 75 in time for a lovely wheel - that classic 'big shear flight' - upper parts on view and it's a dark one with a proportionately short hand, wings held very straight. I didn't see the 'L', but it was going away, so that's hardly unexpected. The time? 1006. Nine minutes later it passed Berry Head. Admittedly it was well into the Bay by the time I got on it, but boy, that thing was moving....

Also by were a Sooty, 32 Balearic, and 657 Manx. That I could see. They were well out [at 'Big Shear range', Ho Ho] when it was clear and everything was going like the clappers. A Stormy too, shot by; I've never seen one going that quickly that wasn't being chased! By contrast, of the 8 Puffins, none were outside the 'Main Line' and 4 stopped to hang about in the lee of the Ore Stone. Not unwelcome, as a couple showed very nicely indeed :) Also 6 Razorbills and 4 Guillemots.

Skuas didn't do too badly and almost did very well, with an Arctic early on, a nice Pom, and 3 Bonxies - one a juv, and one which scragged a poor juv Gannet! - plus a small skua sp. which looked horribly like a Long-tail but was just too far out in just too much muck to be certain! Rats!
A party of 5 Common Terns hung about for more than an hour, but the 3 Arctic Terns motored on through. As did the lone Whimbrel, 2 Turnstone, and 37 Common Scoter. Gulls past included 3 different juv YLGs, 2 Med Gulls, 2 LBBs, and 4 BHGs. 144 Kittiwakes included 11 juveniles.
The only birds going north were 4 each of Gannets and Fulmars, 678 and 52 going the other way respectively.

On land, there were at least 4 Rockits knocking about the rocks, one of which was sporting a metal ring! I've never seen a rung Rockit at the Nose before [or anywhere else, for that matter]. Not a hope of reading it, of course..

So, a very good day indeed! Almost an outstanding one, if the vis and birds had been a little kinder, but them's the breaks.

EDIT: Swifts still present, with 39+ early evening. [I do, of course, have no proof whatsoever that these are the same Swifts every evening...]

SECOND EDIT: I clean forgot that I actually got a picture of a seabird this time!! Ok, it's only a gull, but still;

Showing off some anchors

Finally, a shout-out of congratulations to [Famous Devon Seawatcher], for showing us all how it's done. Seven......

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