Sunday 16 August 2020

This week it has been mostly foggy

It's felt more like October than August this week, the cloud, got or mizzle has hardly lifted and neither has the temperature. Sadly, despite the murk and the wind having easterly in it, we didn't have the birds of October. 

It's been mostly misty this week - keeps the crowds away though

I've been down to the patch most days this week, some seawatching, looking for migrants, a bit of ringing and culminating in two 3 hour seawatches today.

I had a bit of lie-in this morning, but when I got up the Whatsapp group had news of Long-tailed Skuas heading north along the coast. About time there was some good seawatching as it's been a damp squib so far this week. I headed for the patch, arriving just after 9am. More messages of Long-tailed Skuas  - failed to connect with any of them, had they gone too far out for me? Lots of Manx Shearwaters, a single Bonxie and Arctic Skua and then at 10:40 a closer Skua, almost coming out of the Bay rather than heading north, a Pomarine Skua, no 'spoons' but a superb bird and close, it headed out into the bay.

I called it a day at 11.30 and headed home for coffee, worried I had missed the Long-tails but happy with my Pom. In the dunes I came across my first Wheatear of the autumn, a moulting juvenile.

Juvenile Wheatear

After lunch I was about to head for the allotment when Dave Dack kindly called me to tell me that more Long-tailed Skuas were heading north. I re-parked the wheelbarrow and jumped in the car and back to the dunes. Another report of five!! yes five Long-tailed Skuas past Snab Point - I didn't see them. I was about to hoy me scope into the sea and take up metal detecting. Then at 4pm I got onto a skua heading north, more bouncy and tern like in flight, it was looking good as it came north, about 2/3rds of the way out. As it drew level with me ID was clinched - Long-tailed Skua, the steely grey of the bird against the sea tied in with the jizz as it flew past, it didn't get very far before landing on the sea off Chibburn Links. After that another L-T Skua was reported with two Arctics from Newbiggin. 24 minutes later I got onto three terns - they were distant mind. It was good to compare 'jizz' though  - the first bird much more buoyant and 'aerobatic' than the two that followed, the cold-steely grey could be picked up at that distance -honest!

Two more Long-tails were reported past Newbiggin Church Point at 17.15. Thirteen minutes later I was watching them, closer than the previous skuas, amongst the pot flags this time. Amazing  - four Long-tailed Skuas. 

At 17.34 a Pomarine Skua went north at Church Point and amazingly exactly ten minutes later I picked it up, powering north. It got here quicker than the Long-tails and Arctics which is surprising when you watch them fly!

Manx Shearwater passage was heavier in the morning than the afternoon and even Gannets were thinner on the ground after lunch. A couple more Bonxies came through and an Arctic Skua was 'resident' in the Bay, harrying terns. 

Black-headed Gull headed north

Six hours well spent!

On Monday my walk produced a flock of 14 Goosander headed north and a pair of juvenile Buzzards over the dunes and perched in the bushes. This Grasshopper Warbler was by the Dunbar Burn.

Grasshopper Warbler skulking as they do

Goosanders headed north

I tried a ringing session on Tuesday morning before work but it was very quiet, I only caught 14 birds and 5 of them were retraps. It was almost as if the resident warblers had mostly cleared out, leaving a few willow warblers behind. Wednesday was very quiet too so I walked back by the beach and saw my first Turnstone of the year when three flew north and Whimbrel called overhead. 

Carrion Crow on the beach
One of 14 Cormorants over
Juvenile Blue Tit in the dune bushes

Seawatching on Friday evening produced a single Sooty Shearwater among a handful of Manx. About 250-300 Common Scoter are hanging around offshore with a few guillemots and couple of  Great-crested Grebes in amongst them. 

The week definitely ended on a high. It looks like the northerly will switch south on Tuesday, I hope we get another one before the winter. 

The easterly winds have deposited huge numbers of Jellyfish on the beach. This is a Lion's Mane Jelly

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