Friday, 17 May 2013

The End Is In Sight...

..which means hopefully I'll be able to go out birding again!  Although from reading other blogs/websites it looks like the summer doldrums have already hit! Saying that though, this post has taken about three hours to write because I've just spent an hour or so with Gav on Seaton Marshes waiting for a Black Kite - it never came. Hopefully we are still in with a chance though.

During the last week we've had some excellent sea watching conditions, and I've tried to squeeze in the odd short watch as and when. To be honest with you, considering how little time I've been looking at the sea I haven't done too bad.

Last Friday I was down the sea front for 05:25, and gave it until 7.  Best of all was the passage of Great Northern Divers, with 11 west, many in full summer plumage. Sadly no Black-throats for me - still!  It was good to finally see a small skua too, with a dark phased Arctic Skua chasing Kitts close in at about 05:40 before flying off east.  There was a bit of wader passage as well with five Sanderling, two Dunlin and a Ringed Plover west.  Then it was the weekend...

Saturday I was up early again, really early in fact to lead a Dawn Chorus Walk at Black Hole Marsh on behalf of the EDDC. I'm pleased to say the weather was kind to us, and 21 people joined me for the two hour wander which was finished off nicely by bacon butties and bird ringing!

The usual songsters sang well, and it's always good to hear Reed and Sedge singing together - just a pity the singing Lesser Whitethroat didn't come closer.  One of the best sounds were the Whimbrel though, with a few small groups over, followed by a very noisy flock of 17. A Bar-tailed Godwit was amongst them, and other sightings included a Hobby low north at about 06:30 and a Greenshank on the Estuary.

This week, a few glances at the sea on Monday showed little, but my alarm was set for 5am Tuesday morning with a forecast looking good.  I got up but the weather didn't seem that good so I settled down with my laptop. This proved a mistake, as texts began coming through from Gav informing me I'd missed three year ticks! I tried to ignore all these message, but at 08:20 gave in and headed to the beach...

The first thing I did was take a walk along the beach in case Gav's Turnstones were still about. No waders at all, but a glance out to sea showed a skua chasing gulls off the harbour mouth - I ran back to the car to get my telescope. As I was setting the scope up by the Spot On Kiosk I could see a skua flying west just off the beach with my naked eye, and I was overjoyed when a look through the scope showed it to be a cracking sub adult Pom! A stonker! It got better too, as following it was a fully-spooned pale-phased adult! So so soooo close as well - I was treated to epic views, probably my best EVER Pom Skua views. I can't tell you how overjoyed I was (although you can probably tell!) because I normally have rotten luck with this species on patch.  Gav and Ian M saw them too from other locations, which is always good. After I'd watched them for a bit, I realised they were probably close enough for a photo. Sadly I was slow of the mark and they were further out when I tried to get some snaps. All I managed was this pic of the sub adult...

This dark shape doesn't so it jutice, but I'd say this is identifiable as a Pom!

I had about 40 minutes for this sea watch, and as well as the Pom's I clocked up two Great Northern Divers, several Whimbrel, Gannets and Kittiwakes and a Bar-tailed Godwit.

This flock of Whimbrel landed on the beach

After a several hours at home, the rain and wind tempted me out again at about 11:30 for an hours sea watch. This was quieter but it was very worthwhile as I had excellent views of a close Storm Petrel feeding off the river mouth - result!  At least three Stormies were seen on Tuesday, which I found really surprising as we normally need persistent and VERY strong winds for these. They were all close too.

Only other birds I saw on this watch were a Bonxie west, and a few blogging Sandwich Terns... 

Fishing Sandwich Tern

Wednesday was a very surreal day for me. Before heading off to Lyme Regis I had a walk along Seaton Beach. A single Dunlin and three Ringed Plover made it just about worthwhile. Didn't see to be much over the sea except this Gannet which was unusually close... 

I know it doesn't look close, but you can see it flew in front of Beer Head

Then I headed off to Lyme. And why did I go here? Well keep your eyes on The One Show. Hopefully I make the final edit, and if I do I'll try and let everyone know when it will be on...

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