Sunday, 25 September 2016

Seawatching at Trevose Head today


I was up bright and early this morning , with heavy rain overnight and 20-30mph westerly winds forecasted I was very hopeful of a good sea watch. In fact I was probably too keen as when I arrived at Trevose it was still fairly dark! Still it gave me time to walk down to the headland and set my telescope up and get comfortable . I started counting at 7am and for the first hour things were fairly quiet except for masses of Gannets heading west and a few Balearic Shearwaters . Then at around 08;05 A.M I picked up a Shearwater trailing a typical Balearic that looked very interesting and my gut instinct was that it could well be a Yelkouan Shearwater . In the lovely neutral light and at a close enough distance that I didn't need to zoom in with the scope I had already noted it's sleeker profile than the 'pot bellied' Balearic in front and what had made me really start to concentrate was that I had seen a few Manxies in the last few minutes that showed typically blackish upperparts and yet this bird was showing a distinct brown tinge to the upperparts. My mind switched on to all the I.D features I could remember and in particular to the excellent talk I had listened to at this years Birdfair from Mike Langman and how he recalled Britain's first Yelkouan in the field. Like Mike I was more inclined to rule out an odd Manx Shearwater, this bird didn't remind me of Balearic in structure or flight style at any point ( the Balearics were powering through whilst this bird gluided through on stiff wings like a Manx and yet when it did flap it's wings , the wing beats appeared to be slightly more purposeful than the butterfly like Manx Shearwater). I knew viewing time would be short so I zoomed up to get more on it. Undertail coverts , definitely dusky and contrasting with it's white belly. It had a nice set of wing linings too! They joined up with the dark leading and trailing edge of the wing , which in itself showed no noticeable difference to a typical Manx in thickness ( I always think that these thicker dark patterns on a Balearic are very noticeable and even on a pale Balearic it makes the whiter middle part of the wing look much smaller than on a Manx type Shearwater, this sounds long winded but it's a great way of picking the paler birds out). I couldn't see the feet projecting which was a shame and I can't say for sure I noticed much with the face pattern so in the last 10 seconds or so I tried and failed to video it through the scope! I'm happy it was a Yelkouan though, the second one I have claimed, but understand that without pictures I won't get that far with BBRC.

Still I was buzzing and things where heating up! Much more Gannets were moving and at last a bit of variety had started to come though... Boom! A juvenile Sabines Gull with 10 Arctic Terns ( both year ticks ). A late Great Shearwater followed immediately by a Little Auk tagging along with it's larger cousins. A few Sooty's powering through in the distance , you can't beat a good sea watch! In a flash my 4 hours had passed and it was time to pack up , an excellent morning with the only disappointment being a lack of small Skuas... Although I was on my own so I could've missed them....

Final totals in 4 hours were:

1 Drake Common Scoter
1 Fulmar
1 Great Shearwater
2 Sooty Shearwater
113 Manx Shearwater
1 Yelkouan Shearwater
29 Balearic Shearwater
3654 Gannet
6 Shag
2 Oystercatcher
1 Bar-tailed Godwit
5 Great Skua
1 Little Auk
1 Juv Sabines Gull
1 Juv Common Tern
14 Arctic Tern

No comments:

Post a Comment