Friday, 16 September 2011

Sab's-fest @ Bridges of Ross 16th Sept 2011

Time: 12:40-19:40
Weather: F4 SW sunny, dry & hazy at a distance in the afternoon turning F5 W with some light showers & grey seas with good visibility in the evening.
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Noel Keogh & Joe Shannon.

Sooty Shearwater: c.1,360
Manx Shearwater: c.12,500
Leach's Petrel: 8
Storm Petrel: 21 
Great Skua (Bonxie): 60
Arctic Skua: 184 
Long-tailed Skua: 35 (31 adults, 2 2nd cal-yr & 2 juv)
Sabine's Gull: 392+ (c.40% juvs)
Little Gull: 4 juv/1st-w 
Black Tern: 8 juv 
Little Tern: 4 juv 
Sandwich Tern: 13 
Arctic Tern: c.5,000 
Common Tern: 1 juv 
Grey Phalarope: 1 
Puffin: 3
Common Scoter: 8 
Light-bellied Brent Goose: 18 
Red-throated Diver: 13
Bar-tailed Godwit: 12

Minke Whale: 1
Common Dolphin: c.5
Sunfish: 1

Spent the morning up around Loop Head trying to increase that flock of Buff-B's (which has now dropped to 'just' 8 birds) & looking for migrants (picked up an Osprey & a Ruff!) but with a forecast for Westerly winds in the afternoon, we decided to head to the The Bridges just before lunchtime. Straight away it was apparent that massive numbers of Arctic Terns were going by, with a nice passage of Sooties & Sab's Gulls tipping past too. It all went bananas in the late afternoon with flocks of anywhere between 50-300 Arctic Terns with 5-10 Sab's Gulls amongst them, on show at almost any given stage, closely followed by plenty of marauding skuas. As far as I'm aware, today's total of Sab's Gulls is the highest ever recorded in Ireland, beating that of 315 seen from BoR back in 1997!!! If myself & Noel had been present on site since dawn then who knows what the final tally would have been? I know of higher day totals of Long-tailed Skuas but it was certainly a personal best anyway. The Little Terns were a Bridges first for me too & it was cool seeing a few Black Terns & Little Gulls thrown in there for good measure. 

Without a doubt, it was an immense passage but weird in how selective it was for terns, Sab's, skuas, Sooties & Manxies. Not a single Pom, Balearic or Great Shear to be seen & surprisingly small numbers of Fulmars, Gannets, Kittiwakes, Leach's & Grey Phals (but then again the winds were Westerly as opposed to North-westerly).

F5-6 W-NW winds blowing all night & until Sunday afternoon...CAN'T WAIT!

Sabine's Gull (John Murphy)

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