Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Frustration And Jubilation

What an excitable day on patch...

The Frustration

Sooties - one of my favourite Shearwaters. The south coast has been invaded by them today, with Berry Head reporting 102 by early afternoon, and even Durlston Head (Dorset) - which is way up the English Channel - had 11 past in an hour tonight. I spent about seven hours seawatching from here today, watched the second biggest Balearic Shearwater passage I've ever seen here, and saw not one Sooty! I just hope tomorrow morning produces one or two...

Then there were the 'Phalaropes!' Mid morning, a couple of whitey-grey waders came flying into my scope view, at mid distance. Just as I thought they might be Phalaropes they dropped onto the sea....and disappeared! I saw them for about two seconds in all, so can't call them on the view I had... gutting! Mind you - Gav - can I put them on my year list as 'Phalarope sp.'?

Just to ensure I got a good kick in from the Phalarope family, tonight a Wilson's Phalarope decided to ignore what has been the best wader hot-spot in Devon this year, and land on Bowling Green Marsh. Bums!

The Jubilation

Once I heard about the Wilson's Phalarope, there was a little argument between my 'patch year listing head' and 'life list head'. The former head won! With the conditions how they were, I just couldn't leave the patch.... what a top decision! Whilst I was trying for a Sooty AGAIN, my phone rings - it's Phil - and he has a Black Tern on Blackhole Marsh! Well he just flitted over the tramline and on to the river.

I jumped in my car, had a quick look along the estuary, then postioned myself at the Farm Gate. Soon after arriving here, Phil phones again - it is back on Black Hole Marsh! I scoped over the lagoon, and thanks to Phils help, was soon watching a gorgeous juvenile Black Tern feeding low over the surface of the lagoon with hirundines whizzing around it - what a top bird! Black Tern is pretty much annual on patch, but they are hardly ever twitchable. For the last twitchable one I reckon you will have to look back to 2001. THANKS PHIL : )

I will mention the only other notable sighting I have for the estuary now, a female Tufted Duck on the estuary late afternoon.

Now to seawatching - and it was a bit of a monster watch. In all I was watching the waves; 06:40 - 08:00, 08:45 - 11:10, 12:30 - 14:10 and 19:10 - 19:40. For the first and last watch I was alone, but the two middle ones I was joined by Ian M - and for a time - John Chambers.

My totals are (west unless stated): 4 Common Scoters, 33 Balearic Shearwaters, 14 Shearwater sp. (one flock of ten that were almost certainly Balearics), 3 Great Skuas (flew west together at 08:00), 4 Kittiwakes, 1 Commic Tern, 3 Oystercatchers, 1 Curlew, 1 Whimbrel, 24 Dunlin and 2 SANDERLING! (Sanderling in upper case because Gav still needs it for the year!).

That's all from me and this rather large and boring post. Please, let's all wish for a Sooty tomorrow morning.... please please PLEASE....


  1. Your so-called 'phalaropes' were quite obviously weary Sanderling that fancied a swim. After a breather they did another little circuit and came past you in grippingly bold upper case.

    PS. I'm finding it difficult to wish for a Sooty Shearwater tomorrow morning. ;-)

  2. BLACK TERN!!!! Another species that certainly deserves upper case... : )