27 January, 2014

Something From The Weekend

Back on Nights, happy happy joy joy...

Right then; Saturday's original plan was derailed by work, and a quick nip to Blackball was all I could do.

Despite a not inconsiderable force of wind, there were a paltry 4 Kittiwake sheltering in the lee of the cliffs and only 13 GC Grebes. The trip was certainly not a waste, though, as a group of 4 duck gradually made their way closer down the coast. They were dark and diving regularly and also mostly head-on. Eventually they came right down to a spot they seemed to like - off Petitor Point - and hung around. What were they? Eider. All females.  :D

Yesterday, with a frisky front and following showers forecast, I headed down to the Nose. Yeah, really original.

It was... Interesting. The morning's 'rain interspersed with sideways drizzle' was more productive than the afternoon's 'sun with vicious squalls' and so after 6.5 hours and with the slick pretty dispersed, I called it a day.

There was a steady low level passage of mostly Kittiwakes; just over 50/hr and Razorbills; just under 50/hr, with Fulmars; about 9/hr and Gannets about 28/hr also moving. Late on, a few Guillemots started moving [as opposed to the birds going to and fro from the Ore Stone - highest count 109] with 36 passing south. Of interest, the majority of Guillemots were in or near s/pl, while most Razorbills were still in full w/pl. Only 5 Kittiwakes were 1w.

In the morning there was a passage of divers, with a lone Black-throat first thing and then 16 Red-throats, including flocks of 8 and 5. A lone Scoter zipped past and was the only flying duck, while the only wader was a cracker; Grey Plover! PATCH TICK!!!!! :D

On shore, the friendly neighbourhood Rockit hung around until I appeased it with food. It's amazing how much sarnie can fit in such a little bird... It then appeared for showers and took advantage of my bumbleshoot - as long as I didn't move it [that's just too scary; all rustley!] - as well as viciously seeing off another Rockit that tried to join in the fun [ouch..]. Apart from the odd chirp, it stayed quiet, unlike another one, which was singing regularly through the day! Rockits singing in January. In the rain. Whatever next..??

Right then, time for some Fun.

Abandon hope all ye who read past here.

Be warned that there is Gull Talk a' comin'.....

But first a pretty picture.

The nice heavy frontal rain started up the SWBCM;

Yeah baby, it's chumalicious out there...

and drew in a fair few gulls including a very fetching adult Med Gull. Alas, neither the Ross's nor Ivory Gulls rsvp'd. At least 35 BHGs and 6 Common Gulls - one a rather big one, which made me look twice - among the assortment of Herring, GBBs, and the odd LBB, that competed with the Kitts in the traditional Hope's Nose Stormy Impersonation Contest. I can't help but be amused at the sight of an adult Geeb tripping.. :)

What really caught my eye, though, was this interesting one, hanging about the edge of the slick by the Lead Stone mid afternoon;

Brown-backed gull

It was really slippery - this was the only shot I got of it - but it's not too bad. The bird was very slender and attenuated - those long all-dark primaries were actually even longer than they look here. Tertials slightly paler than prims, with whitish thumbnails. The upperparts were what really caught my eye; almost uniformly dark greyish brown. A few dark shaft streaks in the mantle and GCs, and the hint of a thin dark subterminal anchor in the odd smaller covert were the only markings - those only visible in direct sunlight. The bill was pale at the base. The head, neck, and body [that I could see, I never caught it flying] had brown spotting - they were lighter than appears in the picture.

Odd, isn't it? It looks like a 1w [presumably LBB] which has managed to wear off all of its saddle feather markings; I've never seen anything like it. Like I put in the caption, it's a Brown-Backed Gull!

Right then, larophilia over.

Also near the Lead Stone [though on the other side] was a female Eider - looked like the one from late last year but was even slipperier than that gull! On the sea were 4 GC Grebe and a GND.

So, an interesting watch and I think a better way to spend the morning than staring out the window at the rain.
Ok, opinions vary on that one.

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