Friday, 17 August 2012

First Wilson's: Bridges of Ross 17th August 2012

Time: 06:40-10:40 & 15:20-19:20
Weather: F1 S, dry, bright & warm (am). F 2-3 S-SE, bright, warm, some showers & sea mist at times but generally good vis & dry (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh, Keith Langdon, Mikey Hoit, Dave Farrow, Reg Land, Simon Woodhouse & Dave Andrews.

Balearic Shearwater: 1
Sooty Shearwater: 24
Manx Shearwater: 3,250+
Fulmar: 710+
Wilson’s Petrel: 1 feeding & heading West, from 06:55-07:05 (Niall T. Keogh)
Storm Petrel: 60+
Common Scoter: 1 male
Great Skua (Bonxie): 8
Pomarine Skua: 5 subadults (2nd-summer types)
Arctic Skua: 14
Black Tern: 1 juv.
Arctic Tern: 3
Sandwich Tern: 10
Razorbill: 25+
Guillemot: 1
Puffin: 5

Whimbrel: 6
Dunlin: 22
Sanderling: 1
Black-tailed Godwit: 5
Chough: 2
Swift: 2
Wheatear: 1

Minke Whale: 1 with feeding Common Dolphins in the evening.
Bottlenose Dolphin: 3 passing east in the morning.
Common Dolphin: up to 100 feeding actively with Gannets am & pm.
Ocean Sunfish: 1

An early morning Wilson’s Petrel proved tricky at first due to less than ideal lighting conditions. Distinctive flight style, feeding behaviour & an obvious lack of white on the underwing initially suggested Wilson’s but it wasn’t until it moved a little further West & got the light on its ‘good’ side that the salient plumage features could be seen to confirm ID. The first sighting of this rare sub-Antarctic breeding species from The Bridges of Ross this season. With any luck there’ll be more to come!

Overall an excellent tally for somewhat ‘poor’ seawatching conditions. Nice species variety, a constant light passage of Manxies & Fulmars and a surprising number of skuas. I’ve certainly had worse seawatches from here before in more promising weather conditions.

A large feeding aggregation of cetaceans & seabirds was also present off Loop Head in the afternoon, consisting of 4+ Minke Whales, 100’s Common Dolphins, c.10 Bottlenose Dolphins, 150-200 Storm Petrels, 500+ Manx Shearwaters, several Sooty Shearwaters, 1 Arctic Skua & 2 Great Skuas (Bonxies).

Soggy seawatchers © Niall Keogh

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