Saturday, 26 October 2013

Recent stuff (15th-26th October)

Absolutely no twitching in the past couple weeks so no gripping stuff to report. Only patch birds and butterflies. The 15th was an AK wildlife cruise day and volunteering on board gave me the opportunity to explore the northern most parts of the Carrick Roads from the water.  Numerous Little Egrets, Mediterranean Gulls of note along with the odd waders including 3 Whimbrel and 1 Common Sandpiper. The warm weather also produced a group of 7+ Buzzards taking advantage of the thermals along with 2 Ravens and Red Admirals. A group of Fallow Deer were also viewable from the water and we even managed a short excursion out to sea adding Peregrine, Guillemots and a Grey Seal to the day list of species.

A late afternoon excursion on the 18th down to Pennance Point where I encountered a late Painted Lady still on the wing along with a single Speckled Wood. 5 Ringed Plover, 1 Turnstone and 1 auk sp. flying west were the most noteworthy species at Pennance along with 4 Mediterranean Gulls and 2 Red Admirals. I walked further west along the coastal footpath eventually reaching Maenporth were I found a pos. White Wagtail on the beach amongst the Pieds. Unfortunately, it didn't remain long enough for me to thoroughly scrutinise it.  A pair of Stonechat were also at High Cliff.

I squeezed in a brief trip around the local woodland and some farmland neighbouring the campuson the 23rd. Butterflies seemed more productive than birds as I saw 1 Painted Lady, several Red Admirals and Speckled Woods as well as a distant Clouded Yellow sp. (a very pale looking individual, although I expect this was most likely due to it being bleached and worn)! 2 Ravens also flew over.

Today was more productive as strong gusts from the SW were beginning to built up in earnest.  A Peregrine over the house was the first bird of note for the day before I went down to Pennance Point for some sea-watching.  I took the route past Swanpool locating a skulking Water Rail on the west bank.

Sitting myself down in my favourite sea-watching spot (a mound of dirt) I began with a scan eastwards through the bay.  After some time, I picked up my first bird of note. It was a distant dark phase skua sp. most probably a Pomarine!  Its flight action was strong and steady with fast but not rapid wingbeats.  It traveled low over the water with no shearing or banking like in Arctic.  It did do a brief chase, harassing a small gull or tern and landed two or three times on the water as it went westwards through the bay.

2 Balearic Shearwaters also passed through the bay to the west (both rather late passage birds which make any sea-watch a joy) along with 2 Kittiwakes and 1 auk sp.   2 Peregrines also passed the point and 2 Mediterranean Gulls were lingering between Swanpool and Gylly.

An interesting gull sp. also went west. It was a classic Sabs/juv. Kittiwake confusion situation so I took note of as many features as possible including the colar, median and lesser coverts and overall jizz.  Size was difficult to interpret but appeared roughly Med Gull in size and black outer primaries, white secondaries and dark grey median and lesser covs made for some striking features.  I tried hard to determine whether the median covs appeared darker than the lesser covs but I could only determine a slight difference in contrast with the median covs only slightly darker (a feature I'd expect to see far more contrast in if it were a juv Kit). Despite trying my best to make out a dark colar and wedge to the tail neither were visible on the views that I obtained.  Hopefully a Sabine's will pass the point over the next couple days of strong south westerlies.  Whether I'm there and see it is another matter...

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