19 October, 2014

Hope At The Nose. Also Skuas.

Work was a right bugger this week and that was before the overtime.. Ah, what can you do?

Anyways, I was dead tired and, though I was planning to be at the Nose for first usable light the next day, this plan was shot by my not turning my alarm on. Or possibly turning it off in my sleep*. Whatever the cause, I ended up not waking until mid-morning. The weather didn't seem that awesome, so I wasn't too vexed, and figured I might as well take some lunch down and just see if anything was about. As due penance to the Goddess of Birding, I walked over. As the forecast was right about the heat, I suffered as I deserved.

It was actually pretty good - the wind was a stiff to strong SSW to SW, there was a vestige of a slick from the SWBCM, and the horizon never fully cleared of gunk, even when the sun came out. The sun also duly went away again - only a bright hour between one and two was ever troubling, really - and while it spat a bit, I didn't get rained on, either.

There were even birds! About 110 Gannets, 100 Kitts, and 40 Razorbills an hour [though rates waxed and waned a fair bit] was better than I had hoped. Oh, also skuas and shears! 2 Sooties, 13 Balearics, a Manxie and a shear sp. [B/M] - not bad at all. One of the Sooties was out just past the Manxie line [and followed  a few minutes later by a 'Sooty-pattern' Balearic; pale underwings and dark belly, the works!] but the second came by much much closer, and treated me to some lovely shears as it tacked to pass outside the Ore Stone  :D

41 skuas - including 11 Poms! - came by, with some lovely behaviour, mostly involving unlucky Kittiwakes [4 on 1 is just unfair... ouch]. Most of the age-able birds were juvs - outnumbering adults by more than 2 to 1.

Quite a few Med Gulls - all immatures, mostly 1w - and LBBs - including some very interesting looking individuals -  were about, with a half dozen Common Gulls also passing. A lone Arctic Tern was a pleasant surprise; it managed to dodge the marauding skuas, too!

20 Guillemots and 19 auk spp. [range], plus 2 Purple Sand and 11 C Scoter finish up the seabird passage, with 5 late Swallows tail-end charlies. On land, a Wheatear was about the rocks of The Sole. On the sea, 2 female C Scoters hung about all afternoon, but no sign of any divers or grebes yet. A Grey Seal hung about, proving very elusive; I only saw it when not looking for it. This was not the 'usual' big grey [bull?], but a smaller browner animal, adept at posing its head to look like an interesting bird sat on the water!

Finally, a cetacean sp. has me scratching my head; a very tall seemingly black dorsal fin with a black-looking back and a clearly defined horizontally-bordered white marking on the flank below the fin. Waves too big and too far out to see anything else and only the one sighting.
The fin shape shouts Orca, but the white flank rules that out. White-beaked has a flank marking in the right place, but fin shape and the sheer black-and-white -ness of it makes that unlikely. Common has the strong marking, but fin shape and marking location [under the fun the flank mark dips down to make a dark point] are again against it.

EDIT: Thanks to some nice VT from BH making me remember what perspective and angle of view are, this was a White-beaked Dolphin.. Obviously...

Today I had many things to do that did not involve birding, but I managed to get to the Nose anyway this morning, where overhead Skylarks, Mipits, alba Wags, Linnets, and Goldfinches were moving. A couple of Chiffs - including a nice green one with black legs [!?] - were in the bushes, but nowt else. A Razorbill was on the sea and a couple of nice adult LBBs were loafing with the local gulls. The smaller Grey Seal was again lurking about, being as slippery as it was yesterday.

[[*This irritating habit is why I have a second alarm for work mornings, carefully located on the far side of the room. It's also very loud.]]

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