27 October, 2021

Sometimes, The Goddess Smiles

After a needed sleep, and a little prompting via others' success [cheers for the text!], I got myself to the Nose.. er.. 'mid'-morning and spent 4 hours getting rained on watching the sea!

Yes, I dragged the Big Scope down and beasted out the weather on The Steps [due to saving weight on my shoulder by not taking a foldy stool... Turned out very well but spoilers] and was rewarded with birds!


The weather was rain and drizzle bands coming through on a SSE-SSW stiff to strong wind, breaking to more westerly wind and sunshine later on. Basically the middle to back end of a cold front.
Despite arriving on site at the horrifically late hour of 1030 [gasp], I was the only person there. No, not one fisher / jogger / dog unleasher, nothing.   Zoinks.

A gap in the rain

I decided to defy the wind and plonk on The Steps, as it wasn't raining that hard [hood up but brolly down] and well, there were birds.
First sweep gave a Bonxie, along with a stream of Gannets and Kittiwakes. This would be the way of the day.


The blowing drizzle played the usual merry hell with my camera, which caught the sulks and refused to shoot anything really good. I really tried, when the Sun shone, but got nothing. So you're just getting what I could hit and came out vaguely recognisable.
Arctic Skuas
[light and light-intermediate morph adults] 
[also, spot the juvie Kittiwake]

Mediterranean Gull
[adult winter]

Arctic Skua
[dark morph]

Bonxie, juvenile
[note gingery hue and reduced wingflash]

On site; at least 3 Oyk [seen at once, probably a lot more around] and 2 Eider. Yes, 2. Seen in flight and on the sea together, both look like 1cy and one's almost certainly the male that's been around on and off.
[They have stuck around, but nobody's got a photo yet that I know of]

The Steps, 1050-1450

Gannet 300
Kittiwake  707
Razorbill  58
Guillemot  1
Little Auk  1 [see below]
Small [distant] auk sp.  3 [ incl. 1 prob. Puffin at 1105]
Bonxie  16
Arctic Skua  6
Med Gull  22
Common Gull  11
BHG  32
Swallow  9
Curlew  1
Ringed Plover  2
Sooty Shearwater  1 [see below]

Little Auk?
Little Auk!
Point blank range at 1204, right outside the rocks, yes, that's less than 10m offshore!?! Only seen due to looking for a calling Ringed Plover [hoped it was sat on the rocks in front of me - they do that, see old old posts for pics]. How close? Observe a helpful Oyk on the same line;

Passing The Notch

Yes, that's that notch in font of me you can see in the first photo..

Now, I've seen Little Auks from the Nose before; they're 'hope to see' each year. But usually on the Manx line, very occasionally inside the Ore Stone, more often outside it.
I've seen them pass close to Berry Head, but that's 50-100m at most close. [And of course 'that's Berry head'..] 
This was whirring blob with naked eye, close. Gorgeous with bins close. Too close for scope close!*
If I'd been sat anywhere else, higher and drier, I'd not have had a hope of seeing it. Ok, the Traditional Spot maybe, but it likely would have come in under line of sight - possibly even following the coastline - and again only if looking with naked eyes, it was that far off everything else's lines.

As posting notebook shots is the thing..
What, you expected neat writing?!?
Here we have a sketch of the bird, note winter plumage - even a touch of bill! - and a diagram of the line it was on. The wings are actually angled at the carpal, but appeared as a curve due to how fast they flap. At longer range it's just a blur full stop.!
Interesting to note that even that close the white in the trailing edge of the wing didn't show up at all. I think you'd need a dark background and a long panning view to pick it out.

Why the Sooty last? 'Cos it took it's sweet time and didn't turn up until 1415; after the sunshine did! Oh, a Sooty Shearwater in the sunshine is a wonder to behold, especially when it has enough wind to play in. :D
And on the Manx line, too, so close enough to coo over with the Big Scope. I did try my best to get a pic, but missed every shot [drat]. They do go quite quickly, you know. [[Blimmin' camera...]]

Oh but what a day! I've not had much seawatching this year, what with one thing and another [and another..], this was a reminder of just how much fun it can be. Even when you're holding on hard to your brolly in sideways rain, hoping nothing good's passing while you're unable to scope....

Be Seeing You...

[[* Panning speed, not minimum focus, alas; imagine a Little Auk too close for your scope.. ]]

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