16 September, 2013

Waiting For The Rain

Ooh look, here comes a great big low, whatever shall I do?????

Hmm, I wonder.....

So, Hope's Nose yesterday was rather bright and calm. I'd considered not showing up until the afternoon, but then I thought "Naah, what else is there to do? Go off and dip Osprey again?"

Which is fair enough.

So I toddled down - checking the bushes on the way [I found a Blackcap and a few Chiffs] and casually set up on The Steps. To cut the story short, the weather took its sweet time arriving, and the epic deluge of a front the forecasters were promising was little more than a few bands of fairly light rain after a bout of sideways drizzle. The wind did pick up, and was very nicely SW, so I was wonderfully sheltered.

There were birds, not in vast numbers [probably], but in plenty of variety and all through the day. Albeit a bit thin now and again. There was always something to look at, even if it was the distant feeding frenzies [at first, anyway] and mostly that something included a Balearic or six, so the time went. It didn't feel anything like the 9 hours I watched for, which is always a sign of a good watch.*

Rather than go into lots of pointless numbers, I'll try an overview;

The feeding was split into several areas, many well offshore, but one got continually closer and further north as time wore on. By the time I left the birds were practically in Brandy Cove! [I have learned that the Mackerel have been running, so maybe that's it?] This closest frenzy was never huge, but did consist mostly of Balearic Shearwaters - largest group 21! - and Gannets, feeding on something very close to the surface. The Gannets were only lifting off a wingspan above the sea before diving back at a shallow angle. The same group also had a lone Sooty with it early on - it was sat on the sea next to 3 Balearics - nice comparison!
The activity meant getting accurate passage for a lot of the birds is... problematic. There might have been 147 Balearics passing, or there might have been a lot less on big loops. I tried my best; the short loops I saw and ignored and I kept an eye out for distinctive groups, but really who knows? Certainly they outnumbered the Manxies by a lot.

Certainly also they came in enough for long enough for me to try this and sort of succeed;

Phonescoped Balearics!!!
Bottom left [side on] and top right [underside on]

There was some definite passage though, and it included some very nice bits and pieces - ducks and waders! 4 Ringed Plover were a bit distant, but 5 Redshank were much better! They came in and landed on the back of the Lead Stone with an Oyk - I even heard them calling - stayed for a while then moved on. Waders good, but ducks better; Common Scoter moved mostly south in small groups, but gold to me were a Tufty, 6 Wigeon [going N], and best of all....  7 Teal!! PATCH TICK!!! :D

This is the Joy of Patch right here. Getting this excited about Teal**.

Also a passage of Razorbills - 7 of them including a 2. ;)


Terns showed up and in increasing numbers after the rain started, mostly Common but 3 Arctic, including one cracking adult lingering at point blank range and a few Sarnies. Dawlish Warren may be the best place to see terns, but the Nose isn't bad for close views and when the outfall has been running, they will linger right in front of you. :)

Lingering terns, of course, draw skuas! Arctics and Bonxies mostly - with several of each coming in to cause mayhem, panic, and disorder :D  Two different [by location of moult in secondaries!] adult light morph Arctics gave spectacular views as they harried Kittiwakes and terns so close I couldn't use the scope and barely kept up with bins! Two lovely gingery juveniles tried harrying Gannets - I don't know who laughed more, me or the Gannet which just glanced back at the young skua and then totally ignored it...
It may not have rained much water, but 12 Bonxies in 75 minutes wasn't bad for raining trouble. Among the victims was a 2cy GBB, who got flipped upside down in mid air by a Bonxie coming from behind [ouch]. By this time the feeding Balearics were in close and they too got some unwanted attention - though they were able to evade with surprising agility.
Also notable was a lovely dark-intermediate Arctic - a very slender individual which would have been be really nasty if it was further out. Especially when it stalled! Three Poms came past - two light morphs and a juvenile - though none of them were particularly close and no spoons on show. Also a skua sp. - an A/P.

A few Fulmars moved past - again mostly south and not tarrying.
Don't forget the gulls! Two Meds, one a fabulous adult right off the rocks, a dozen BHGs, four LBBs, and a creditable 21 juvenile Kitts out of 79.
On the rocks, eventually 3 Wheatears [never more than two in view at once] and at least 4 Rockits kept up a merry go round of hop-hop-chase!

Nothing as spectacular as earlier in the year, but for the leading edge of the wind it wasn't bad at all.

Annd finally, a couple more shots for you;

First of all, how do you know when your seawatch is over? Simple, you look left and see this;

It was like a curtain being drawn!

Lastly, a plant! Not what I expected to see below the Steps in the spray zone!

Ready salted...

[[*Or a good sleep.. ;) ]]
[[**Yes, they're beautiful little ducks in their own right, but admit it, you only look at them in case there's a rarer duck hiding amongst them!]]

No comments:

Post a Comment