Saturday, 6 October 2018

Scilly

A tough start to the trip. Great and Sooty Shearwaters were the highlights of the Scillonian crossing, but the weather since has been far too pleasant to bring many birds. The star bird so far has been the Tawny Pipit that showed well on my first trip to Bryher, but superbly when I returned alone for photos.

Tawny Pipit


The Lapland Bunting that spent a few days on the golf course was almost tame and gave views down to a few feet.

Lapland Bunting


I hit lucky with the Buff-breasted Sandpiper at the golf course when I caught it flying in and landing briefly nearby.

Buff-breasted Sandpiper

A snipe at Lower Moors looks good for Wilson's but it has so far failed to lift a wing or flash its tail for conclusive identification.

Possible Wilson's Snipe
A trip to Tresco produced a Red-breasted Flycatcher, Wood Sandpiper and 2 Pintail.

Red-breasted Flycatcher
A sneaky climb to the top of the hill on my second trip to Bryher got the 6 Cattle Egret on Tresco Great Pool.

Foul weather today meant challenging conditions, but there were far more birds around (including 7 Whinchat in the Standing Stones Field) and a late Barred Warbler when the conditions improved bodes well for tomorrow.

Bar-tailed Godwit

Friday, 7 September 2018

Red-backed Shrike

Despite seemingly excellent conditions on Tuesday 4th September the seawatching at Whitburn was nowhere near as good as expected. The results as ever on Trektellen here.

Dave Gilmore saved the day by finding a Red-backed Shrike in the nature reserve, which showed well from the screen, as it hunted bees.

Red-backed Shrike


Eider, Teal and Wigeon



Tuesday, 28 August 2018

Casp

After a quiet seawatch at Whitburn I popped up to Amble, where the returning Caspian Gull was in the harbour. Spending most of its time asleep, it did wake briefly for a quick wander and some photos.

Caspian Gull
Further down the coast, East Chevington continues to look good with Spotted Redshank, 2 Garganey, Little Gull and 10 Ruff of note. Painted Lady, Small Copper and Wall were by the path to the hide.

Painted Lady & Small Copper
Quiet at Druridge and Cresswell, but a smart Ruff was just north of the causeway at Cresswell. 2 Yellow Wagtail were at Lynemouth Flash.

Ruff
Back in Gateshead a Little Egret dropped in for a few minutes at Shibdon. 3 Green Sandpiper were at a refreshed Lamesley.

Little Egret


Thursday, 23 August 2018

Scilly Pelagics 4 (Foggy Sunday 19th August 2018)

An early start for my final pelagic of the trip was greeted by fog. Not thick, but dense enough to stop us seeing and hunting down the shoals of feeding Tuna. The plan was to head out and drift with chum over the side to draw some Wilson's Petrels. It worked and we were treated to close passes, their speed, small size and unpredictability made them a nightmare to try to photograph.

Wilson's Petrel
Wilson's Petrel
Wilson's Petrel
Wilson's Petrel
Wilson's Petrel walking on water
Alongside the Wilson's were British Storm Petrels.

Storm Petrel
Storm Petrel
Storm Petrel
We also passed a couple of Ocean Sunfish .

Ocean Sunfish
Later the fog lifted and we were able to hunt out some feeding Tuna. The frenzied flocks of gulls and Gannets were visible from miles off.

Feeding frenzy
Again we had cracking views of Cory's, Great and Sooty Shearwaters.

Cory's and Manx Shearwater
Great Shearwater
Great Shearwater
Fulmar
Fulmar
Manx Shearwater
Sated we headed back to shore. From there it was straight to Lower Moors where the juvenile Citrine Wagtail that had been found while we were at sea was still around. Initially elusive, it eventually showed superbly at close range.

Citrine Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail
The next day I had a few hours to kill waiting for the boat home. I spent some more time with the wagtail as it fed just in front of the hide.

Citrine Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail
Citrine Wagtail
Water Rail
A trip to Porthellick gave a distant, yellow-legged 'common ' Sandpiper, but without a scope I had to leave it. Luckily a little later it dropped in front of fellow pelagicers Stu and Gary, who's cracking photos confirmed the id of a juvenile Spotted Sandpiper.

Spotted Sandpiper (Gary Hobson)
A tremendous few days!

Wednesday, 22 August 2018

Scilly Pelagics 3 (Big Saturday 18th August 2018)

This was an epic day where no anchovy was safe! It was clear just a few minutes after leaving port that a lot was going on. Large numbers of shearwaters were streaming past us towards distant spots of boiling sea, each speared by hundreds of Gannets. Reaching the first of these feeding frenzies we could see the manic, dolphin-sized Bluefin Tuna breaking the surface as they feasted on the panicking Anchovies. The latter leaping clear of the water in clouds as they tried to escape the carnage.

Bluefin Tuna
Anchovies
Carnage
We moved from feeding frenzy to feeding frenzy, seeing huge numbers of Cory's, Great and Sooty Shearwaters feeding, travelling and resting up in large rafts.

Cory's Shearwater
Cory's Shearwater
Cory's Shearwater
Great Shearwater
Great Shearwater with Anchovy

Great Shearwater
Great Shearwater
Great Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
Sooty Shearwater
The bulk of the shearwaters were of course Manx, with the very occasional Balearic. The Balearics were fleeting and difficult to pick out in the swirling flocks, but one showed distantly, resting on the sea.

Balearic Shearwater
Balearic Shearwater
Manx Shearwater
Gannet
The day continued with bigger and bigger feeding frenzies and a couple of glimpses of Minke Whales at their edges. For me the highlight of the day was when we parked close to a feed where first a wave of Tuna charged just a few feet from the boat and then a Minke Whale broke the surface just 30 yards away. This was the first time that I had seen a whale hunting, rapidly twisting and turning just below the surface, then breaking through with open mouth to scoop up the fleeing Anchovies. Bella, the ship's dog went wild about the whale and the Common Dolphins that zipped through.

Minke Whale
Through the day we had several Bonxie, Storm Petrel and to keep the run going, 3 Wilson's Petrel.

Bonxie
Wilson's Petrel
Totals for the day were 3 Wilson's Petrel, 5000+ Manx Shearwater, 750+ Great Shearwater, 350+ Cory's Shearwater, 5 Balearic Shearwater, 50+ Storm Petrel, 20+ Bonxie, 12 Arctic Tern, 300+ Bluefin Tuna, 3 Minke Whale, 30+ Common Dolphin, 1 Blue Shark and 2 Ocean Sunfish. This was an unforgettable day!