Monday, 24 February 2014

More Patch Megas! (21-23rd February)

Birding on the 21st by myself at the Hooked Cafe were I found myself yet again scanning the bay for divers and grebes.  During the course of my time I was scanning, numbers of divers seemed to be climbing steadily, although not to the same extent to which they had been present in the last couple days.  It wasn't high on my agenda to attempt to count them although I did see a minimum of 14 Black-throated Divers and 4 Great Northern Divers.  It was only when a thin white line rose vertically out of the water that I realised it also sporting an upturned bill and sleek look, it was my first ever patch RED-THROATED DIVER!!  This was a mega bird for the area so I decided to attempt a couple digi-scope pics before putting the news out to Dan. Despite loosing the bird just as he came up the steps, we did relocate it again in the direction of St Anthony's Head where it seemed to vanish every now and then (presumably diving despite remaining faithful to the surface for the 20 mins when I first found it).

Red-throated Diver in Falmouth Bay

We decided to squeeze in a quick visit to Swanpool afterwards to check the gulls which is when Dan called a white-winger! Sure enough, there was a stunning adult GLAUCOUS GULL sat calmly amongst the other Herring Gulls.  We enjoyed the bird for a good couple minutes but just as I was texting the news out to other locals, it took flight, did a round of the lagoon and just as I managed to pull the camera out of my bag, it flew over and left behind Pennance Point, presumably to roost offshore with the rest of the gulls.

adult Glaucous Gull over Swanpool

if only I was better at manual focus...

By now I was getting pretty cold and despite committing to a walk up to Swanpool Point to scan the gulls again I didn't warm up any more and ended up shivering all the way.  As a result, I didn't have much concentration (spoke gibberish for a good half hour) and only saw a single Mediterranean Gull and a Peregrine shoot through the gull roost.

A relatively early start seawatching from the Hooked Cafe on the 23rd was reasonably productive.  I soon realised the wind was blowing with a decent force and direction so I ended up heading down to Pennance Point instead for the sea-watch.  Lots of Fulmar, Kittiwakes flying about.  Several Black-throated Divers and Great Northern Divers which were regularly flying between Falmouth and Maenporth Bay (didn't count them though as I was more focused on the distant stuff).  A trickle of Gannets and Guillemots were also moving but there wasn't as much happening as I had hoped so gave up which. That's when the adult GLAUCOUS GULL flew directly past me at the headland!  It's probably the same individual that's been hanging around the Falmouth area for a while now.

adult Glaucous Gull west past Pennance Point (probs the same individual as the one I saw on the 18th and 21st Feb)

Back at Swanpool, 1 adult Kittiwake popped in (landing on the pool briefly before leaving 5 mins later) and 1 3rd winter Mediterranean Gull was also coming to bread.

adult Kittiwake on Swanpool

3rd winter Mediterranean Gull

regarding the Med Gull, I'm a little concerned regarding it's aging.  The Helm gull guide mentions that 3rd winters can have traces of black markings to the outer webs of P8-10.  However, this individual has markings on P7 and 8!  With all the variability expressed by gulls I guess it's acceptable for some to show markings on P7 despite no mention of it the gulls bible.  Any thoughts/opinions?

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