Thursday, 20 May 2021

The Sea

Today I twice went and looked at the sea. An hour and a quarter this morning produced 1 Great Northern Diver and a Kittiwake. Apart from a few auks whizzing about, that was it. This evening was better. An hour and twenty minutes for 47 Manxies, 39 Kitts and a lovely dark-phase Arctic Skua which briefly interrupted its journey west to hassle a gull. I have to say, the sea looked absolutely splendid...

The view at Cogden this evening.



The wind is set to continue blowing hard all night from a south-westerly direction. That fact, combined with the date, takes me back to my early days on the Axe patch. The night of 18th May, 2006 was quite similar, and the following morning delivered a nice Seaton tick for some of us: Storm Petrel. It was the beginning of a crazy 10-day period which saw an unprecedented spring influx of Stormies pushed into the English Channel. According to the Dungeness Bird Observatory website, the 43 birds they counted on May 21st shattered their previous all-time total of just 19 individuals over 54 years, none of which were in spring!

Out of curiosity I looked up the pressure chart for 18th May, 2006...

Top: 18/5/2006  Bottom: today. Not identical of course, but similar enough to get me fired up a bit.
(With grateful thanks to Metcheck.com)

Tomorrow is May 21st. A special date. On the same day 15 years ago, during that 2006 red-letter period, Steve and I were privileged to witness a rare and special spring seabird. The following accounts are copied straight from the Backwater Birding thread which still lurks in a quiet corner of BirdForum. Hopefully Steve won't mind my lifting his bit too...

Steve first...

Two sea watches today, morning and evening. Gav will tell all, but tonight absolutely unbelievable!!! Ten minutes after two Arctic Skuas came by.... At 19:48 these were my exact words... "Skua.... (brief pause)....It looks like a long-tailed.... (another brief pause)... SH*T IT'S A LONG-TAILED!!!!!" A full tailed adult Long-tailed Skua flew west, first for Seaton area. Unfortunately just me and Gav were seawatching at the time so we were the only lucky ones. I cannot describe the excitement and the....WOWNESS!!!! An absolute dream Seaton bird! Also had another year tick tonight in the form of an Arctic Tern which was offshore for a few minutes, but this has somewhat paled into insignificance!

And mine...

This morning was a bit of a let-down after recent events. Not much wind, not much sea, and not much birds. 05:30-07:00 produced just 9 Manxies, 22 Common Scoter and a probable RTD. Storm Petrels were still on the move though, with 3 to me, plus 3 or 4 more seen by the others (4 of us this morning).

Otherwise engaged throughout the day, but not so out of touch that I didn't notice the change in the weather! Very strong S or SSE, plus loads of rain, clearing mid-afternoon, but still windy. Thought I'd sit down to a cuppa when I got home around 17:30, relax, get out later, but a quick look at Birdguides convinced me to get down the seafront pronto.....Long-tailed Skuas around, including one at Hope's Nose, and, more crucially, one at Portland late afternoon (mistakenly thought it said 'flew W', but have just noticed that was a Hants bird - no matter, it got me out!). In position at 18:00......Steve phoned: "How's it going?" "It's worth it - Manxies, Terns, plus Portland had a LTS that flew W - get down here!" He did.

That bird was such a wonderful prize, and I have yet to see another adult Long-tailed Skua. I'm not deluded enough to suggest that there will be another tomorrow, but given a couple more days of these weather systems, who knows? Whatever, it'll be another early alarm in the morning...

4 comments:

  1. Good luck Gav, I'll have to wait until autumn for mine...

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Cheers Stewart. One or two about, but no Stormies for me this morning, and definitely no LTS! More chance of the former but I'll not hold my breath for either! 😄

      Delete
  2. You've missed a trick here with your post title Gav. "The Old Man and the Sea" would have been perfect.

    ReplyDelete