Dungeness - 0600-0900hrs - cool, cloudy, ESE 4 - What with one thing and another I only had the opportunity to get out in the field first thing this morning, and with a brisk south-easterly forecast there was only one place to be. Unfortunately, many other visiting birders had the same idea and the seawatch hide and surrounding area was swamped with visitors. However, we hunkered down with several other locals and settled in for what proved to be a memorable session.
The main attraction were good numbers of Pomarine Skuas on the move up-Channel, with the wind having the desired effect of forcing some close to shore. The pics below do not do them justice, as we had stunning views of at least 30 adults in breeding plumage, mostly light phase birds, sporting long `spoons` and so close you could easily see the yellow neck collar and pale, black-tipped bill. They came through mostly in small flocks of two or three and one of seven. There were more further out and no doubt plenty went through unseen in the choppy waters of mid-Channel. We also enjoyed good views of 10 each of Arctic Skua and Bonxie, several of which cut in close along the shingle beach.
And that wasn't all! Throughout the watch hundreds of Gannets, Common Scoters, Kittiwakes and, particularly Arctic Terns, streamed through, plus Fulmars, 20 Barwits, 100 Common and Sandwich Terns, four Med Gulls, a Little Tern, three Black Terns, a Black-throated Diver, five Avocets, two Grey Plovers, 15 Sanderlings, two Velvet Scoters, five Brents, six Shelducks, four Shovelers, four Teal, two Gadwall and a Pintail. Coasting and incoming land birds included two Swifts (new for the year) several Swallows, Goldfinches, Linnets and a Yellow Wagtail.
What made this such an exceptional seawatch was that for the most part the seabirds were so close that they could be enjoyed with just binoculars, particularly those that passed through inside the Cardinal buoy, with some of the skuas along the tideline.
No doubt many more Poms were logged throughout the day; for a full summary check out the DBO website: www.dungenessbirdobs.org.uk