18 October, 2013

Berry Head

With a strong sustained SE forecast, I decided to forego the battering I'd get at the Nose and went to Berry Head instead.

I've not been there for almost exactly a year - shocking! I couldn't believe it when I checked back, really I couldn't...

Anyway, after getting a Willow Warbler as migrant of note, I headed down to do some seawatching. I was joined on and off by various Famous and Very Famous Devon Birders, most notably The Boss himself, and sometimes there were even birds for us to look at!

The rain didn't really materialise, but the wind steadily picked up and a few bits passed; in five-and-a-bit hours, I recorded 7 Balearics, 4 Arctic Skuas, 2 Bonxies, a Pom, an adult Med Gull, 3 Common Gulls, 20 C Scoter, and a reasonably steady trickle of auks, Gannets and Kitts [the latter being most numerous, with ~12.5% juveniles among them]. The Harbour Porpoises [at least 4] put on a couple of impressive displays of porpoising, as well.

Despite The Thing*, it was wonderful to be seawatching again. I really needed it. Trees are great, but I'm drawn to the Sea.

Annnd finally, I met this little - or not so little - thing as I was climbing out of the Quarry..

Big Green Bush Cricket Type Thing

[[*Ah, The Thing.. You don't want to read this.

This is one of those "WTF..." birds.

Oh, all right then. If only because someone might know what it is.

Picked it up at about 1035 {I got a little distracted so not timed to the minute.. sorry} flying away out of the Bay. Huge, grey, very heavy laboured flight. I almost skimmed over it, but it registered and I went WTF - literally - and had a look. Mottled grey like a worn Fulmar, except for an off-white head and neck - neck thick, but not as tubby-looking as a Fulmar. I couldn't see the bill as it was always going away. Underparts the same mottled grey too! Tail looked tubenose-y; not the sharp point of a Gannet, and Gannet was the main comparison because this thing was huge... Wings were long, not so thin as Gannet's, with a broader, blunter hand than Gannet. It was actively flapping - not fast beats but making serious progress - so much that The Boss couldn't get on it when I [far far too late] realised I wasn't going to ID it and called for help. The mottled grey blended wonderfully with the sea once it's head was hidden, but I'm still kicking myself that I didn't scream earlier. 
Moral: It is better to be told 10,000 times "Its a Manxie', than to miss one Yelkouan, so Call Early!!!
Those flaps were very hand-y - not much arm movement at all, especially on the up - so the wings seemed very bowed. Kinda made me think a little of Cory's in not enough wind. The whole attitude of the bird seemed to be that it wasn't windy enough for it.

I don't know what it was. All of the standards I can think of have big holes, even allowing for a massive size screw-up. 
Maybe it'll turn up again. Hopefully it'll fly past someone with better initiative and a really good camera....]]

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