Saturday, 23 May 2020

The Sea by Day, the Sky at Night

Today I'll begin with a photo...

The feet of a desperate man.

Taken yesterday evening on the coast near me, the photo depicts a saddo in boots.The bloke is so desperate for a skua that he is willing to try seawatching even in a poxy south-westerly. In this corner of Lyme Bay your average spring skua heads E, intent upon showing nicely for the clients at Chesil Cove and Portland Bill. Not every single one, but almost. So, in a nice SE wind they plod into it manfully, relatively slowly, and sideways on. Lovely. However, in a SW wind they zip past like a leaf in a gale, shearing madly, and every which way but sideways. Not lovely. So when a distant pale phase skua hurtled by at 18:02, the poor sap stood no chance. Could have been a Pom. Could have been an Arctic. Who knows? In compensation a Bonxie had bucked the trend and gone W, slowly, twenty-five minutes earlier.

Basically our hapless hero has been seawatch-starved since March, and was willing to give it a go in any conditions frankly. He'd already been in action at 05:20 that morning, and ditto today, notching up another Bonxie at 05:55. Over the three sessions, this is some of the tally...

Bonxie 2
Annoying unidentified skua sp 1
Balearic Shearwater 1
Manx Shearwater 171
Common Scoter 31
Turnstone 2
Sanderling 8
Great Northern Diver 4
Shag 1
Kittiwake 10
Med Gull 3

At times it was quite busy, with lots of Gannets and auks and things, but most were flying E, with the wind, and far, far too quickly. Strangely unsatisfying.

Anyway, that is probably it as far as the spring seawatching season goes. On the plus side: three skuas and a Balearic, and my scope still works. On the minus side: two months.

Finally, I must share a couple of nocmig videos from two nights ago. Just tiny little squiggles on the spectrogram - in one case really tiny - but again, wow! Especially the first one here...

Yes, that is a Sandwich Tern. A Sandwich Tern flying past my microphone located in a little Bridport bungalow estate some three miles from the sea. I suppose the novelty will eventually wear off, but I hope not too soon - some of these nocmig birds still make me laugh out loud!

And here's the other one. It's rather quiet, but unmistakeable...

And that is a Redshank. I did see a couple of Redshanks on a partially flooded meadow in West Bay back in March, but as far as I know they are definitely not a common local bird. Yet another wader makes my garden's list of grippers!

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