Monday 30 August 2021

Mostly Seawatching

 This week I've mostly been seawatching.

With the wind switching to the north for most of the week, I've been seawatching at every opportunity, I've even abandoned Druridge for Snab Point a couple of times for rarer species.

It all started last Sunday, I had an evening seawatch, the wind was NE but light but it was a good start.

Arctic Skua 2

Bonxie 2

Little Gull 1

Roseate Tern 3

Sooty Shearwater 1

Manx Shearwater 11

Two Velvet scoter with 460 Common.

Young Gannet

On Tuesday evening the seawatching was quiet but the light was amazing and it was nice to just watch the common species. A juvenile Black Tern going north was a nice year-tick.

Oystercatchers in evening sunlight - a mix of adults and juveniles.

Curlew in silhouette

On Thursday another evening seawatch was more productive. 12 Manx and four Sooty Shearwaters, a Great Norther Diver in summer plumage, four Roseate Terns and four Bonxies.

On Friday evening, the wind had dropped but was still NE and it was overcast. 18 Pale-bellied Brent Geese headed north were my first of the year on the patch. Seemingly the same group were in Norfolk the previous day. 

Northbound - Pale-bellied Brents

A few Sooty and Manx Shearwaters, five Bonxies and two Arctic Skua, as I was about to head home when I got onto a distant shearwater. On jizz, before side-on views,  I thought 'Balearic' - the flight was too languid for Manx. It was distant and and the already poor light was fading fast (19:20) - it probably was Balearic but I wouldn't want to claim it.


On Sunday morning reports came through of a Balearic Shearwater headed north past Whitburn. I decided, rather than risk not seeing it at Druridge I would go to Snab Point, still inside my 5km Patch. News came from Newbiggin that the bird had gone past Church Point, we waited, and waited. 40 minutes passed, two angling boats that had been offshore motored north, Ashington Gary suggested the shearwater might be behind them, I scanned wit the scope and there it was, some way departing boats. It was distant but gave good views, showing a 'dark' armpit, but not a very dark 'smudgy mark'  - jizz was more Balearic than Manx but it looked different. 

Photos and videos taken at Whitburn show this bird to be atypical for Balearic and it certainly looks like many photos of Yelkouan Shearwater. One for the experts...

An amazing number of Med Gulls, at least 75, were on the beach in Lynemouth Bay. A Greenshank on the beach there was nice. I like Snab Point, it's nice to see some rocky shore species. 

One of the Meds

The wind was still out of the north this morning, it was cold and raining when I arrived on the patch. I headed for the Budge hide rather than the dunes. The Spoonbill was still there but little else so I braved a seawatch. 

The showers kept coming, they were light, but squally, and the visibility was awful. Two Pale-bellied Brent went through, followed by ten more and a single bonxie. Another squally shower, and from inside the bay, through the murk, a shearwater came through, again I thought Balearic, again, because of the poor light, not enough to clinch it. I was more certain of this closer bird than Friday's mega distant bird. A single Manx followed it shortly afterwards and I was more certain the first bird was a Balearic but I'll not be submitting it. Another shower loomed so I gave up and went home.

I was back out at Snab Point later for another north-bound Balearic that didn't make it much beyond Newbiggin, where it stopped for lunch. I did the same.

One of the resident Fulmars at Snab - much closer than the passage birds

Juvenile Arctic Skua

Same bird as above

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