Monday, 3 March 2014

Patch Mega (now becoming an understatement) (1st March)

The weekend once again came around sooner than expected and with little else planned, I made my way down to the coastal patch once again.  The plan was to ditch birds for the day and focus on my plant ID instead but only if the weather held out.  No worries, that didn't happen.  The day started out a little overcast but improved quickly.  None the less, I didn't want to ignore the coastal birds too much so did a short seawatch from the Hooked Cafe.  It was going rather casually with 22+ Black-throated Divers and 19+ Great Northern Divers lingering in the bay (peaking as usual by late afternoon).

I watch as AK wildlife cruises came speeding into the bay from around Pendennis Point and saw them gradually work their way around towards Swanpool where they gradually came to a halt.  Watching the water around them to see if they might have got something I was absolutely overwhelmed/stunned/shocked when I saw a jet black Guille pointing towards me!  I kept my calm (as best I could... which isn't very good) and an overwhelming shudder of excitement kicked in.  I went straight for my phone and camera, desperately trying to digi-scope the stunning adult BLACK GUILLEMOT (a true patch mega which was riding the swell just offshore!) before I started calling the news.  The number of birders on patch soon swelled to an impressive eight individuals!

adult sum. plum. Black Guillemot!

Greg who made it down to patch also got the Guille before we moved on back to Swanpool to check out a large white-winger which I'd picked up lingering offshore and had come on to the lagoon to have a wash.  They typically stick around for a couple mins but it still allowed us to watch it at relatively close quarters before leaving again.  Even when offshore, the pure white feathering and entire lack of markings made for a confusing ID and wasn't much more helpful despite closer views.  Something didn't seem quite right and although we were fully aware that juvs and 2nd winters tend to bleach and abrade quite severely by this time of year before beginning their moult in April/May it was still very confusing to see an absolutely pure white bird with only bill and eye colour giving support for the ID.  Leucistic seems a reasonable guess but even excluding a very bleached and abraded individual will probably prove impossible.

2nd winter Glaucous Gull

a pure white individual

it's bicoloured bill and pale eye safely put this in the category of 2nd winter but is it severely bleached or leucistic?

probably the best feature in favour of it being leucistic is the underwing as even this is pure white.  Juvs or 2nd winters will usually have traces of darker markings here as the underwing covs, axillaries and flanks tend to be the most protected areas least susceptible to abrasion and bleaching.

I bumped into Lawrence later in the day followed by JSL and manged to put them both on the Black Guille before focusing on counting the evening congregation of divers from Swanpool Point.  As well as the aforementioned divers was 1 Slavonian Grebe and 5+ Mediterranean Gulls.  It was a little depressing to leave on a low when I watched a small fishing boat pull into the bay haul in their net and see them tear a dead Great Northern Diver from it before tossing it back into the sea.  I didn't see them catch any fish...

these fishermen were responsible for the death of 1 Great Northern Diver and 0 fish during the time I was watching them

1 comment:

  1. Observation of by-catch of Divers and Grebes is important data for the work of Natural England and the Cornwall Inshore Fisheries and Conservation Authority. Thanks for posting this.
    Nick Tregenza n.tregenza (at)