Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Sooty Shear passage @ Bridges of Ross 4th Sept 2012

Time: 07:20-12:20 & 15:50-19:20
Weather: F3-4 (gusting 5) NW, overcast, dull & dry (am). F3-4 NW, sunny, warm, dry, hazy & spray (pm).
Observer(s): Niall T. Keogh

Great Shearwater: 2
Balearic Shearwater: 1
Sooty Shearwater: c.2,300
Manx Shearwater: 2,250+
Fulmar: 660+
Storm Petrel: 1
Gannet: 1,500+ (am)
Common Scoter: 10 (9 males + 1 female)
Great Skua (Bonxie): 7
Pomarine Skua: 5 pale phase subadults
Arctic Skua: 4
Skua sp: 1 pale phase immature (probably Arctic)
Kittiwake: 70 incl. 40 juvs.
Arctic Tern: 9
Common Tern: 1
Sandwich Tern: 7
Puffin: 6
Razorbill/Guillemot: 500+ (am)

Chough: 3
Buff-breasted Sandpiper: 1 juvenile still present in the horse field behind the watchpoint.

Common Dolphin: 10+ heading West in the morning.
Minke Whale: 1 seen surfacing twice at 11:45am.

Nearly 3 weeks of seawatching almost took its toll this morning as it was a struggle to get out of bed! But I’m glad I did. The forecast for the week puts a dreaded high pressure over the west coast tomorrow followed by unsuitable South Westerlies for the next few days, most likely quelling any chance of decent passage but the light-moderate North Westerlies which were predicted for today at least gave hope of some worthwhile seawatching before the lull sets in.

Arriving on site about half an hour later than normal, it was instantly apparent that the first big Sooty passage of the Autumn was taking place. Close to 900 birds were clicked in the first hour alone and for much of the morning they outnumbered Manx, streaming past in loose flocks of up to 10 birds at times. A fantastic sight! Hourly rates decreased as the morning progressed and by noon my stomach had got the better of me. Returning in the afternoon, a couple hundred more we logged before fizzling out towards the evening. I'm sure this passage continued throughout the afternoon & in the first half hour of light when I wasn't around so the overall day tally may well have been around 3,000 birds.

The majority of today’s shearwaters were passing at mid or far range so my scope was fixated there for most of the day. As such, it is likely that I missed out on many close skuas, petrels, Kittiwakes & Fulmars but the chance of picking out some large shears or a sneaky Pterodroma amongst the Sooties & Manx was too strong to resist!

Sooty & Manx Shearwaters, Bridges of Ross, Sept 2011 © Kris de Rouck

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