Sunday, 2 September 2012

Cruisin' for a Bruisin'

Today I hit up the RSPB Skua and Shearwater Cruise out of Bridlington on the Yorkshire Belle, where my father joined me and a couple of mates. A quiet start was punctuated by the call of "POM". Now this is a bird that I need still for Yorkshire but I only got poor views of this bird. For me the ginger tones, extensive wing flash and bulk without a double underwing flash made it a slam dunk juvenile Great Skua and I dismissed it but all the people up top spotting seemed delighted and crowed about it throughout. I'd love to string it but I cant in all good conscience.

Not the contentious Bonxie
A few family parties of Sandwich and Common Tern were the sole entertainment on the way out but we soon bumped into large parties of becalmed Little Gulls. At this point we were surrounded by Harbour Porpoises and I had high hopes of something better but this seemed unlikely as the time ticked away. A juv Arctic Tern came into the boat briefly amongst parties of Commons and a Black Tern was called at the back of the boat but it didnt materialise. A handful of Manx Shearwaters swept past as we hit the limit of the Yorkshire Belles allowed distance from land and we turned back, seeing more Little Gulls. Amongst these I saw a slightly bigger gull with a distinctive grey wedge on its back. It was flying away and the light was bad but I was sure it was a Sabine's Gull. Unfortunately nobody else picked it out amongst the large group of Little Gulls. I was treated sceptically by the spotters (who I note reported their 'Pom' to birdguides but not the Sabs). Now here I need to have a little moan. The caller who was relaying sightings seemed to not know who his target audience was, which birds were worth calling, how to give directions. He was also far too slow to relay information for it to be useful so it was frustrating from what is normally a smooth operation. I appreciate the level of experience of the passengers was pretty low meaning that the spotters were doing bulk of the work but they didnt listen properly. Additionally, due to the slowness of the calling a number of birds were only seen by one side of the boat leaving the other side frustrated.

Its a juvenile LBBG

An Arctic Skua came into the back of the boat and it seemed just that. It wasnt cold looking or particularly barred. Nor did it bounce but it seemed that the callers were obcessed with turning it into a Long-tailed Skua. Generally I was unimpressed by the operation as it seemed very amateurish - the info on the birds was largely platitudes or plain wrong when on previous trips that years breeding success etc would be rolled out plainly. A crib sheet would have been easy preperation. Anyhow, enough moaning - it was largely an enjoyable experience. A Bonxie gave a good fly by and there were plenty of Puffins nobbing about on the water. As we returned a Spotted Flycatcher flew over the front of the boat which was a surprising year tick. As we returned to the harbour a couple of Purple Sandpipers were residing on the breakwater.

Not a Sabine's Gull
Due to a dictat from my wife there was to be no Arctic Warbler today (but I have got permission to go tomorrow if it sticks). Instead I headed home with my dad. Whilst having a quiet coffee in the garden reflecting I noticed a Holly Blue in the trees which I digitally rendered.

Holly Blue
Moving on to all things lepidopteran I had the trap out last night. 2 Lesser Yellow Underwings were expected and unsurprising was a worn Square-spot Rustic after the 3 we had indoors the week prior. Better was a Single-spot Wave and a Common Carpet. Addtionally something green and marbled flew off before I could work out what it was or photograph it.

Common Carpet
Single-spot Wave

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