Wednesday 8 October 2014

A trio of Shearwaters

Dungeness - 0900-1200hrs - mild, cloudy, s 6/7 - Commenced a days guiding for two guests from Hertfordshire in the seawatch hide, in near gale force conditions, with a big sea running and plenty of spray in the air. Gannets were streaming past affording good close views along with Black-headed and Common Gulls, Med Gulls, Kittiwakes, Sandwich Terns, plus a distant few auks and scoters. We also had cracking views of at least 12 Arctic and two Great Skuas throughout the watch, several of which came in close chasing the terns and gulls, and watched in admiration as six plucky Swallows headed out for France into the teeth of the tempest.
However, it was the shearwaters that stole the show even though the majority were passing way offshore from our position. A single Balearic Shearwater passed inside the buoy showing well, plus at least five Manx further out along with several others too distant to differentiate. At least 10 Sooty Shearwaters moved down-Channel with many more distant shearwaters going unidentified in the poor weather; but when we called in at the fishing boats around noon and chatted to the sea-watchers it would seem that most were probably of the latter as over 100 were recorded throughout the day. Whilst there an albino Herring Gull flew through.
A circuit of the moat produced a handful of Chiffchaffs and Robins sheltering from the wind and a Yellow Wagtail called overhead.

                                Stormy Dungeness

RSPB - On New Diggings a Great White Egret showed from the road, while the Cattle Egret remained faithful to the suckling herd in the fields at Boulderwall. The usual Marsh Harriers, Kestrels and a Merlin were noted around the reserve, plus all the expected wildfowl on Burrowes, a Black-necked Grebe, six Dunlin, Raven, two Little and one Great White Egrets, Tree Sparrows, Chiffchaffs and Long-tailed Tits around the car park.
On ARC the expected wildfowl, eight Ruff, four Dunlins, Water Rail and Chiffchaffs in the willows.
We called in at the boats this afternoon but things had died down so decided to pull stumps.
Highlights of the day were the shearwaters and skuas off Dungeness, whilst 73 species were noted across the peninsula, so not too bad considering the wind, spray and some hefty showers.

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