Thursday, 24 November 2022

Wind & Rain. Again.

Ah, the sea's been good to me again. Eventually. Very little yesterday, and likewise first thing this morning, despite a strong southerly. Small numbers of Gannets and Kitts, plus a handful of Med Gulls. But the main event looked set to play out at lunchtime today, with gale-force S/SSW and an hour-long band of torrential rain passing W to E. I planned to be in position well before the rain arrived, and stay until it cleared. Good plan, as it turned out...

11:30 - Kittiwakes straight away, with 74 in the first 15 minutes

11:44 - 2 adult Little Gulls E together.

11:49 and 12:05 - 2 more adult Little Gulls E, both close.

Tom arrived. Little Gull is never quite guaranteed each year, and thus far in 2022 he's not seen one. There were no more Little Gulls...

The rain began. By now, Kitts were passing at a good rate - I was on for a personal record for sure. Best of all, many were really close. Such a treat for a Lyme Bay birder...

Kittiwakes. Taken before the rain arrived. The light was pretty amazing for a while.

Two divers went E together, quite distant. One was definitely a Great Northern, the other a smaller bird, but not by much, and we suspected Black-throated. Tom got some pics, and analysis proved it to be just that. Scarce along the coast here, this is my first since living in West Dorset. I find Black-throated Diver a very tricky species to nail on a seawatch, especially at the range usually involved, and have seen way too many 'possibles' and 'probables' over the years.

Counting Kittiwakes.

13:20 - Tom picks up a close Leach's Petrel, sliding E virtually over the beach. We momentarily abandon the shelter. Brilliant views, if a bit wet!

West Bay Leach's Petrel (photos Tom Brereton)

Apart from a skua which had me thinking Pom but proved eventually to be an Arctic, that was it. Except for the Kittiwakes. My final tally was a rather awkward 750. Too much of a round number for me, so we'll call it 750+ and ignore the fact that they were passing at all ranges and I undoubtely missed hundreds more.

The rain cleared like a drawn curtain, leaving a sunny sky and increasingly distant, silhouetted Kittiwakes. It was nearly 2pm, and the show was over.

In other news, I've done a couple of House Sparrow roost surveys on the outer edges of the recording area, but found none at all so far. There was a consolation prize in the village of Loders though...

A countryside Black Redstart.

And finally...

Yesterday morning I received an unexpected message from a fellow Bridport moth recorder. Would I like to see a Golden Twin-spot he'd just caught? Well, I do not plan to make a habit of twitching moths, but yes I would. Particularly as I could compare it to the very similar (and even rarer) Tunbridge Wells Gem I witnessed at Abbotsbury back in October...

Golden Twin-spot. The golden scales really catch the light beautifully.

Due to the potential for individual variation within each species, I believe they are not as easy to tell apart as this comparison suggests. Incidentally, the TWG would normally sport one of those perky tufts on its thorax also.

So there we are. It has been a very eventful month. Absolutely dire for getting work done and earning money, but high winds and torrential rain do have their uses.


  1. Never mind the subjects of the blog, Gav. You appear to be flying yourself right now. Good stuff 🙂

    1. Thanks Ric. The seawatching has been exceptionally good for inner Lyme Bay. The foul weather does mean I'm not earning much money right now, but it has its compensations! 😄