Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Breaching Basker

Today I managed to grab a precious few hours at St Mary's Island hunting for migrants and patch ticks. As I set up the scope to have a brief look at the sea instantly half a dozen Dark-bellied Brents sweep north up the coast. As the sun starts to rise over the horizon I was scoping the buoy in the bay on the shearwater line when one of the most fantastic sightings I have ever had occured. A large animal breached, perhaps 10 foot long. In my head it went 'dolphin, no the tail is on wrong and it isnt rigid enough, shark, basking shark, omfg!!!!'. A breaching Basking Shark is not something you expect on the east coast. A breaching Basking Shark isnt what you expect at any stage. One of the most fantastic wanted things. Awesome animal and not a sign after it made a rather large splash. It towered vertically before crashing straight back down rather than falling to the side.

The wind continues to ruffle my hair as it comes in stiffly from the east and before too long the absence of Sooties starts to nag. A ragtag flock of six ducks heading north held two Eiders, two Teal, a Common Scoter and best of all a Velvet Scoter which was new for the year. As I packed up to bash the bushes a small skein of Pink-feet went south silently overhead.

Best of a bad lot
The bushes were my next port of call and the first bird I saw was a Yellow-browed Warbler. A second called from a crest flock further along the bushes that surround the pool. All of a sudden there were further calls from Yellow-brows in the gully 50 yards away. A further three birds were calling away. Pretty soon a couple melted away but one showy individual moved through the willows and sycamores without settling. A handful of Song Thrushes moved through the gully but little else and soon it was time to head off to work.

At the end of the day I returned to somewhat poor returns although Goldcrest numbers had swelled and a couple of Chiffchaffs obviously arrived through the day. I tried to pull out something from the mounds but returned with just a brace of Stonechats and a dozen Herons roosting in a field.

On Sunday I headed to Spurn, teaming up with Pete, my PWC co-conspirator. As I waited for him to arrive I watched a few Sooty Shearwaters skimming north and missed an apparent Balearic Shearwater. Once Pete arrived we headed into the triangle seeing my first Redwing and Fieldfare of the autumn. A number of Bramblings wheezed overhead and visible migration was evident with mipits and finches pouring through. A Yellow-browed Warbler called unseen from Kew Villa despite our best effort and those of my friends, John and Jim who were busy flushing Snipe when I bumped into them. Steve Routledge was also being taunted by the YBW and he elected to wander the triangle with us. We had little success as a possible Ring Ouzel dived into a hedge never to reappear. Two more Yellow brows evaded us in Canal hedge and we split up. Pete and myself had a brief seawatch as the end of the mornings movement dried up. We caught the last Sooty of the morning and called it a day at that. Obviously there was a decent fall of stuff in the afternoon but hey brownie points earnt!


Crap snipe photo from Canal Scrape

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How brains and birds become mutually exclusive