Thursday, 10 September 2015

Sea-watch Moods and a Good Year for the Roseates

As you turn to walk away
As the door behind you closes
The only thing I have to say
It's been a good year for the roseates
Slightly altered Elvis Costello lyrics.

 9th Sept.  I don’t put that much time into sea-watching as will be reflected by this blog, but I do admire those who do, I mean those who really do put in the hours.  It can be dare I say it a bit boring on quiet days but there are no doubt great rewards to be had in finding your own interesting sea birds.  I use the term interesting rather than rare deliberately.  I’ve never been one for chasing rarities be it on land or sea.

Today we began a bit late under what can only be described as grey, but calm conditions as we looked out from Seaton Sluice headland.  The interesting birds seen today included a constant passing north and south of hundreds of Common Scoter (how many we counted more than once is unknown), several flocks of Wigeon and Teal with small numbers occasionally mixing with e the Common Scoter, a lone Goosander, several Red-throated Divers, two Great Skua, four Arctic Skua, a single Roseate Tern in amongst Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns, Shag, decreasing numbers of Fulmar and Kittiwake, Gannets, Guillemots, gulls, Eiders and a lone Mallard.

Behind us a female Sparrowhawk added some interest as it disturbed the flock of Starlings before focusing its attention unsuccessfully upon a small bird.  As the day proceeded it brightened fractionally, but temperatures dropped or was it the fact that the fish and chip restaurant had been so warm? 

10th September.  We were back at the headland and this time somewhat earlier and in much brighter conditions and despite the cold air a Small Tortoiseshell Butterfly flew over the area. It was a very different mood from yesterday as reflected sunlight made viewing difficult, although to be honest there was very little to see on or over the flat calm sea.  Sam and I are never without something to chat about to fill in the time and our friend Donna was on the headland once again.

Among our sightings were Red-throated Divers, a smaller number of Common Scoter, but still a few flocks of them, one of which included a Velvet Scoter.  After a while and having decided that things were not going to pick we decided to walk to St Mary’s Island.  Passing the willows we found saw little and heard only the calling of Willow Warbler/Chiffchaff.  The Redstart that had been reported to us by a passerby was not found.  We crossed to the island and it was very noticeable that despite the wonderful morning there were very few folk about.  Grey Seals were seen.

Having decided to make for home we checked out the rocks in South Bay and as the tide was now coming in we hung around hoping that more birds would appear.  That was a wise decision as Sam’s keen ear soon picked up the call of Roseate Tern and we found an adult and juvenile bird among the now increasing number of Common, Arctic and Sandwich Terns.  We were able to point the Roseate Terns out to a number of interested folk.  It has of course been a good year in terms of the number of pairs of Roseate Terns on Coquet Island.  The most for forty years I believe, although probably largely due to the poor weather productivity was not high.  It’s been a good year too for me as far as Roseate Tern sightings are concerned.

We continued to chat to passersby as the Golden Plovers flew onto the rocks and in doing so putting on a fine display.  When the Sea King Helicopter flew overhead all of the birds lifted and left the area silent.  Among them was a Kingfisher that had been pointed out to us as it perched on the rocks.  We’d watched it for sometime.

Holly Blue Butterfly

 We left with me dressed for the cold early morning start as folk were now appearing dressed in tee-shirts!  The temperature had shot up.  A great morning was topped off for me when I arrived home and found Holly Blue Butterfly once again in the garden.  A representative of the second brood of the year.

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