Wednesday, 14 September 2011

Bedlam @ Bridges of Ross 14th Sept 2011

Time: 07:00-10:45 & 14:45-19:20
Weather: F5 NW dry, bright & clear in the morning. F2 NW, sunny, dry & warm later on.
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh, John N. Murphy, Tomas Kjelsson, Rolf Sjöberg, Keith Bennett, Kris de Rouck, Wout de Rouck & Joe Shannon.

Fea's-type Petrel: 1 west @ 18:45-18:50 (NKeogh & NTKeogh)
Sooty Shearwater: c.60
Manx Shearwater: c.5,000
Wilson's Petrel: 4 (NTKeogh & NKeogh)
Leach's Petrel: 28
Storm Petrel: c.35
Grey Phalarope: 1
Great Skua (Bonxie): 25+
Pomarine Skua: 4
Arctic Skua: c.55
Long-tailed Skua: 16 (14 adults, a 2nd cal-year & 1 juv.)
Sabine's Gull: c.95 (25% juvs)
Sandwich Tern: 6
Arctic Tern: c.300
Puffin: 5
Red-throated Diver: 5
Common Scoter: 6
Teal: 1

Minke Whale: 1-2

The weather calmed down pretty quickly but there was still tons of seabirds to be seen throughout the day in mixed feeding flocks & rafts, just a couple of hundred meters offshore. Manxies, Sooties, Gannets, Sab's, skuas, terns & petrels were all circling around showing well out from 'The Slab'. Feeding activity died a bit in the afternoon but resting flocks of up to 50 Sab's Gulls & milling skuas made sure there was plenty to look at. The Wilson's Petrels were seen on & off throughout the day, giving fantastic views whilst feeding, displaying their characteristic head-up, wings out straight & legs down hopping posture. A strong Manxie passage started up around 17:30 and at 18:45 Noel Keogh picked up an Arctic Skua chasing another slimmer bird, way off in the distance, over 3/4 of the way out. On revealing it's underside while banking, he soon realised the bird the Arctic was harassing was a Fea's-type Petrel!!! The Fea's continued on, heading west & remained in view for approximately 5 minutes, but it was REALLY far away & in dull evening light. I managed to locate it & got reasonable views I suppose given the distance for quite some time. On 40x zoom the black underwings & grey head with darker eye mask were apparent whilst the upperparts appeared to be uniformly dark which is often the case with these birds when seen in tricky light. Challenging! 

Mega digi-scoped Wilson's Petrel! (Niall Keogh)

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