Saturday, 23 May 2020

Skua-less Spring

Spring 2020 will go down as my worst in history for seawatching in Seaton Bay.

You'd have thought being in the midst of a global pandemic, and a forced lockdown limiting all outdoor activity, would be the main contributing factor right? Wrong.  It's all about the weather - and it's been completely pants for seawatching all spring with way too much north wind and nowhere near enough cloud or rain.  Just look at sites like Portland that have had daily coverage all spring and how many Pomarine Skuas they've reported, very few. Look at all the skua species in fact, there's not even been a good Arctic or Bonxie day.  So ironically lockdown probably didn't make a blind bit of difference to the seawatching story here this spring, there was nothing to miss.

Yesterday offered one final (half) chance for some spring sea action. Although it wasn't overly windy it was from a south westerly direction, backed up with a decent coverage of cloud just not enough of the wet stuff.  I set my alarm for 5am and watched 05:25 - 08:25 from the Spot On Kiosk.  I was joined by Phil for a chunk of it- at a distance greater than 2 meters of course  I only really wanted him there to open up the Kiosk but he didn't get the hints!

Anyway, back to the seawatch and although there were no skuas, at times it was actually quite busy even if it were just the commoner species. In the three hours I was there I noted (west unless stated);

Great Northern Diver 1 at 08:15
Diver sp. 1e
Gannet 155w, 13e
Manx Shearwater 2
Auk sp. 68w, 3e (c70/30 Razorbill/Guillemot)
Common Scoter 28w, 25e
Black-headed Gull 3
Common Gull 2
Kittiwake 11
Sanderling 2 (flew in and landed on beach)
Swift 3

Highlight of the watch for me, two Sanderling on the beach

Love how they just melt into the pebbles! Nice to get a pale one and a red one.

The biggest single flock of Common Scoter recorded - 19 west

Although not taken yesterday, this Great Northern Diver flew close past the seafront during a beach wander in late April...

I know it doesn't look close but for us it was - full breeding plumage too!

Fingers crossed I can get my skua fix in the autumn...

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