Saturday, May 12, 2012

Relaxing birding!

After a week largely crouched behind a laptop I decided yesterday that today would not be impaired by admin., lobbying , research or preparation of anything! So, looking at the weather forecast and taking account of the reports arising from the "skua watches" on the Solway Firth I was out shortly after dawn ( quite early here it has to be said! ) and positioned in one of my sea watching vantage points.

The sea was choppy given a light westerly wind , but visibility even across to Northern Ireland was variable but good. The "backing light" from a rising sun added value to the exercise and, all round, circumstances were well poised to deliver! Well, it has to be said, things weren't frenetic, but the few hours I was there were rewarding and more than therapeutic. I eventually followed the outing with a rather late, but full cooked breakfast and watched the Spanish Grand Prix qualifying rounds, followed by the Giro D'Italia whilst I again crouched behind this machine!!  All solid man stuff, well.most of it!!

The journey to and from the site produced  a very dark Cuckoo in flight, singing Sedge Warblers, Common Whitethroat, Grasshopper Warbler ( near to the house and in the same bush as previously! ), several Northern Wheatears, and my local Swallow appears to have a mate. At this time of year it can be slightly difficult separating what  are local birds, those on feeding movements and true migrants, so full attention is a must.  Local  Fulmar, Shag, Common and Herring Gulls have now been joined by Arctic Terns, whose calls filled the air and languorous flights were something to marvel at. Within the first hour several "tinkling" calls of Whimbrel were heard as birds arrived , and then continued, although none were seen and were presumably at height. Good numbers of Gannets were around or plying back and forth, as were auks, essentially all Razorbills, and a few Manx Shearwater. Almost 200 Kittiwake passed north, presumably to their breeding cliffs on Colonsay or farther afield. And a single Great Skua was seen, not as you might expect winging its way north in a determined fashion, but skirting around the islets offshore, undoubtedly attracted by the commotion of the feeding Gannets, gulls and terns. Not a bad few hours by any means.

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