29 September, 2023

At The Nose. Pt.2, ...And The Goddess Smiled

Sunday. Ex-hurricane Nigel came sweeping in, with strong blustery winds, a really big swell, high temperatures, and not much rain.

I did not get there early.

I did not carry lunch or even a flask.

I did not drive over there to maximise time on site.

What I did do was get there, with a Big Scope, a bottle of water, and a katkit*, and enjoy a hot date with Nigel a seawatch for seven hours.

The Teacher and The Veteran had the same idea.

Together, well, we saw a few birds.

Just one or two.

"Big shears... thousands of 'em!"

[A joke about Mr Caine complaining about skuas being thrown at him has been deleted]

A few, especially later on, came in close. Though this is 'close for the Nose' not 'so close you're getting pics like Pendeen'. So a kilometre or so.
Most were way way further out, along the horizon in a feeding frenzy covering 30° of view [nice having a tripod with numbers on it]. Numbers in the thousands certainly, '10,000' had been quoted at Froward and I see no reason to doubt it!
Eventually the big groups dissipated, with the northernmost coming in and passing closer to the Nose as they moved off south. Closer is still Big Shear range [roughly 1.5 to 3km, and they were mostly 2 or more], but that's enough to ID with a sustained or good view [refer to The Artist's piece on Long-range Large Shearwater ID]

As it happened, a handy containership - in for pilot - helped out;

Yes, big swell but no rain

NYK Venus

Let us zoom in

Note the Gannet, extreme left,
for scale

Just one or two

Maybe 'river' is a better term?

The pointy end

You may note a few Balearics in amongst the big throng.

A closer Bal, at less than half the range;

Going behind the Ore Stone

Quite a few Arctic Skuas, too
[left, with juv Gannet going away]

Now, those numbers.

I did not count the distant masses, and they weren't technically passing the Nose. I did count everything that did - four clickers on the go! - and while I didn't have time to individually ID every bird in that stream up there [which lasted a few minutes only] I did count them and made as many IDs as I could.

So, here it comes [be sat down, Devon seawatchers, this might sting]

Glonk Corner, 1030-1730

Cory's Shearwater                              96
Great Shearwater                               273
Large Shear sp. [~80% Grt]              855
Sooty Shearwater                                6
Balearic Shearwater                          158
Manx Shearwater                               32
Shearwater sp.                                    1
LT Skua                                              1
Pomarine Skua                                    8
Arctic Skua                                        54
Skua sp. [A/P]                                    1
Common Tern                                    17
Sandwich Tern                                   12
Gannet                                               585
Razorbill                                            16
Kittiwake                                           818
Black-headed Gull                             46

That's 1224 counted large shearwaters. Even with Pendeen the Monday before, that's putting another order of magnitude on my life total.

I'm trying very hard, even now, not to get VERY rude [I tend to turn the air blue when exposed to really good birds. It's a thing.]

I wasn't the only one suffering vocal issues, The Veteran was pretty much reduced to "Phenomenal", The Teacher to "Once in a lifetime"

[I must quietly hope not. Addressing the Goddess of Birding all I can say {after Thank you!} is "Please, Lady, I want some more!"]

It was wonderful, amazing, all the superlatives you can think of. Days like that are the reason why you turn out again and again over the ::cough:: decades. It was like the Day Of the Sooties at Berry Head, only drier [oh I got so soaked, but so worth it]

It was so good both the Teacher and myself dragged ourselves straight from work on the following Wednesday for a hot date with Agnes [For Science!]

What happened?

That tale will also be told.

Be Seeing You...

[[ *Knockoff of a certain wafery chocolatey bixit - only the Dark version, please - made by a supermarket favouring orange; half the price but [after the original's switch to crap cheaper 'chocolate' coating**] just as good and now seemingly discontinued. Due to Life frequently sucking.   Anyways, it was my last one, I'd been saving it. ]]
[[** Yet still they're now twice the price they were a couple of years ago. Oh no, no profiteering here.***]]
[[*** Yes, yes, getting on with it. ]]

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