Friday, 11 November 2016

3rd - 4th November

Seabird passage is stealing the limelight with staggering numbers of birds still on the move.  A total of four hours were invested at the seawatch hide watching thousands of birds pouring out of the North Sea and into the Irish Sea on the 3rd November.  Fulmars featured strongly with 3390 passing in a single hour (34 "blue" morphs in the full four hour watch)!  114 Sooty Shearwaters flew north along with 4 Manx Shearwaters shadowed by a steady trickle of 6 Great Skuas and 11 Pomarine Skuas (predominantly immature birds in stark contrast to fully spooned adults and sub-adults that passed through on the 29th -30th October).  A nice variety of commoner seabirds were also on the move, including 4 Red-throated Divers, 3 Great Northern Divers, 2 Red-breasted Mergansers, 213 Gannets, 13 Long-tailed Ducks, 251 Kittiwakes and a selection of wildfowl including a female type Goldeneye amongst a small turnover of Mallard, Teal and Wigeon.  We are fortunate enough to have five species of auk on a regular basis at this time of year.  13 Little Auks, 6 Puffins, 3 Black Guillemots, 32 Guillemots, Razorbill and 212 auk sp. were todays reward.  Another incredible moment was watching a breaching whale far to the NW of the northern tip of the island.  Although it was seen breaching on nine occasions it was simply too far away to identify.  Besides seawatching a some perambulations around the island produced the lingering Hen Harrier and 2 Whooper Swans.

The 4th November was a little less busy but there was still a decent selection of seabirds including 2 Red-throated Divers, 2 Great Northern Divers, 16 Long-tailed Ducks and 376 Fulmars in 15 mins (including 2 "blue" morphs).  Shearwater numbers have subsided somewhat with only 8 Sooty Shearwaters and a single Manx Shearwater passing in the full two hour count.  Nevertheless to have any shearwaters in November is noteworthy in itself so to speak of a passage with triple figures featuring until the 3rd is unprecedented!  Furthermore, seawatching also yielded 1 Pomarine Skua, 6 Great Skuas, 1 Red-breasted Merganser, 7 Little Auks and 2 Black Guillemots.  Some other scattered sightings amounted during the day include 174 Wigeon, 40 Mallard, 42 Teal and Green-winged Teal on Gretchen as well as Merlin and 14 Purple Sandpipers.

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