08 October, 2021

At Last. Sort of. No, Definitely At Last.

Sunday, wrote Mr Generic Chemical Cake Company, and a forecast of squally showers and a stiff SW to W wind following up the previous day's epic levels of rain tempted a certain Birder of a Backward nature [and dodgy shoulder] to risk lugging his Big Scope down the Nose of a morning.
The Thing had hit his sleep again, so he wasn't down at the crack of dawn as intended, but seeing as there was in fact not a BLEEEEEPing cloud in the sky and a gentle-seeming breeze ruffling the tree tops, he wasn't so bothered.

Turns out that, while the forecasters did indeed Speak With Forked Tongue [what's new?], there was eventually a Big Boss shower or three, and even some brisk if not stiff wind blowing.

And there were birds.
Oh yes, hundreds of them!

Miles out and I do mean that literally, but this is what GBFO telescopes are lugged about for. 75x makes kilometres go Bye-byes.

So, with this;

Prime seawatching weather...

You look verrrrrry closely and see;

Kittiwakes and a couple of Gannets

That's through the camera, with the scope, you could see more, obviously! [Nothing like a UV filter to help the eyes in this sort of situation, btw]

After getting this;

Yes, those are raindrops on the lens..

I got;

So much clearer!

Left to right, that's 4 Kittiwakes, an Arctic Skua, and a Gannet, in the trailing edge of a large shower. See how the skua stands out, on account of being so much darker!

Looking North
Looking South

Big squall line. Going away, alas.

Showers cleared, sun came back, birds moved waaaaay offshore again.
Shocked, I was not.

What I was, was very good and only lingered 2 hours. Yes, baby steps and all that.

However, the birds were there [way out there] and the Big Scope took no prisoners.. :D

560++ Kittiwake and 65+ Gannet feeding over 60° of view, at least 2km offshore in a band running roughly N-S from E of the Nose.
All birds heading S into the wind, though no way of telling if any were circulating; those numbers are a single scan of the birds present. At least one pod of fast-moving cetaceans were out there, but I was too low down to have a chance of an ID in the swell.
Moving South [all presumed different birds] were;
Balearic Shearwater  7 [feeding low to sea and mostly hidden by swell]
Long-tailed Skua  1 [1011] Seen half-heartedly chasing a Kittiwake, size and structure conclusive [behaviour very indicative]
Pomarine Skua  4 [only 1 close enough to age; a Light Morph adult]
Arctic Skua  29 [chasing Kittiwakes, 6 in view at one time at ~1km after rain; 4 were adults, one of those a Dark Morph]
Bonxie  3 [1 close enough to age as juvenile]
Razorbill  34
Guillemot  1
[Auks passing on Manxie line and so identifiable]
Swallow  31
House Martin  2
Meadow Pipit  25
Also 1 Grey Wagtail in/off from ENE

Far fewer shears than I expected [I was really hoping for a Sooty...], but the feeding was so far out and the swell high enough to block them. Shearwaters tend to forage low and dive at a shallow angle, whereas Kittiwakes and Gannets fly higher and dive more steeply [especially Gannets!]. Thus from a low angle at long range, a big swell will hide the former but not the latter.

All those skuas, though! Woooo. Not exactly brilliant views, most of the time, but good enough with all those Kitts and Gannets out there to compare to. One time when bright sun backlighting was useful, as Kittiwakes with strong light behind them show a very distinctive brightly translucent trailing edge to the wing; except the very tip, which being black vanishes, giving a 'clipped wing' impression. It stands out against the sea especially, and contrasts to everything else out there [like an Arctic Tern turned up to 11], especially super-dark skuas! Knowing exactly what I was comparing them to made ID of what were skua silhouettes, mostly [with a very odd glimpse of a pale belly or wing flash] possible.

Oh, but it was wonderful to be seawatching again. Even getting hammered on without a brolly. [Ok, maybe I was muttering a little bit, but it's not a proper Watch if you don't suffer!]

I want some more.


Be Seeing You...


[Oh yes, onshore:  I found 3 Oyks and exactly 1 Blackcap. Not even a Chiff. ]

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