24 May 2014
DungenessI awoke early and brought in the moth trap to avoid too much of the rain. I decided to get up and clear my head and drove to Dungeness through some heavy downpours. It was still raining as I drove across Walland Marsh checking overhead wires and fences for something colourful (there have been seven separate sightings of Bee Eaters in the area in the last week or so), but to no avail. I drove around Bretts and down the Galloways Road finding just a couple of rubicola type Stonechats and a youngster.
I then decided the best way to clear my head was a seawatch. The wind was southerly so I called in at the Observatory to pick up the hide key. Dave said it had been a quiet morning on the sea, but I decided to give it a go. I opened the flaps and settled in. Almost the first bird was a fairly close Great Skua which beat slowly past. It was quite moulty, missing its inner primary on each wing and showing heavy wear in its greater and primary coverts, so presumably a sub-adult non breeder?
A few small flocks of Common Scoter flew close and Fulmar were very evident. Another birder arrived and I updated him, saying I was surprised I had not seen a Manx Shearwater given the wind and time of year - the next bird I picked up was a Manx Shearwater: one of four that sheared past in the next half hour. A few auks were still moving around, mainly Guillemot but also the odd Razorbill and a handful of Kittiwake heading up channel were great to see. At 09:40 I looked into my scope to see the distinctive silhouette of a distant Pomarine Skua and called it quickly to the three others in the hide. As they started to get on the bird a second appeared behind it and both then flew together around the point. At 10:05 just as Jonny Tilbrook and Mike Cotterel arrived I found another Pomarine Skua, this one showing massive 'spoons' cutting in from the far distance. Fortunately it gave them time to get setup, just as a second much duller bird got up from the sea and joined it to pass together around the Point. I finished watching about 11:15 after the cloud cleared and the glare became too much. An enjoyable and slightly unexpected late Spring seawatch.
- Great Skua - 1 close in
- Arctic Skua - 1 (dark phase)
- Fulmar - 25E, 10W
- Gannet - 100+ (not counted but moving mainly E)
- Common Tern - clearly some movement with flocks of 10 and 23 passing E and others further out
- Sandwich Tern - about 15E presumed Rye Bay birds
- Guillemot - 7E
- Razorbill - 2E
- Kittiwake - 13E
- Manx Shearwater 4E
- Common Scoter - 82E, 3W
- Pomarine Skua - 4E
After a while people drifted away, ahead of a large storm which brought some heavy rain. Thankfully Gill Hollamby kindly pulled up and offered me a lift back to my car, which save me and my camera from a soaking - thanks Gill!
Back at the car I drove to Springfield Bridge and joined a few others scanning the skies. A Bittern gave prolonged distant flight views and the local pair of Ravens circled over, but the Hobby count had significantly reduced after the storm. I scanned for about half an hour and then decided to call it a day, heading home ahead of a massive thunderstorm and driving through some torrential hail storms.