Absolutely thrilled to cash in on a real rarity on the Axe patch in recent years, some skua passage!
This spring was a complete non-starter for any sort of sea watching, and recent years haven't produced the goods either. Just the odd skua here and there for me.
We've had plenty of windy and some very wet weather over the last week or so, often from the south, and each time I have looked the sea has been quiet. Friday evening (15th) was the best it got for me, with 48 Manx Shearwater, 22 Gannet, 12 Med Gull (including my first juvenile of the season) and a Common Scoter west in 90 minutes. Not exactly thrilling though.
|Mobile camera pic of juv Med Gull|
However on Saturday evening, and following an increase in wind speed, news came through on the local WhatsApp Group of three skuas past Budleigh and more importantly, two heading towards Seaton from Charmouth! I was at Seaton beach for 19:10 and over the following 80 minutes was absolutely buzzed to see seven Arctic Skuas* fly west!
- One pale phased adult south west at 19:10, thanks to Ian Mc for getting me on this one as I was just getting out of the car at the time!
- Dark-phased adult and immature west at 19:15, these came in quite close and chased a Herring Gull for food. These were the two from Charmouth - thanks Richard!
- *A small and slender immature west at 19:22. Looked good for a Long-tailed at first but seemed to show too much white in wing when I zoomed right in. Very hard to be sure at the distance though and would have preferred much better views. Frustrating really but I think probably a small Arctic.
- A dark-phased adult and unaged bird west at 19:40, landed on sea during a heavy rain shower, then continued west at 20:05.
- A immature distantly west at 20:14.
|Skua-induced smiles? No, more like big crashing waves and the promise of a late bed-time!|
|Sorry it's a bit grim! No neck suggests predation?|
|Stunning pattern on the flight feathers!|