Monday, 24 August 2009

Sky watching for Fulmars

Arrived at Marwick Bay at 6:00 to a birdless sea (relatively speaking). Calm, W 1-2. Scanned about, mmm interesting, first time I've been here and there have been fewer than a million Fulmars a second (very slight exaggeration) flapping and shearing by. Then something caught my eye up in the sky, Fulmars were all passing at between 50 to 100m or so up, pouring south at around 1,500/hour. The Bonxies were playing the same trick. The sample counts involved getting a bit of a stiff neck. As time went on more were low over the sea but these were just extras and tended to be further out. I guess this was all due to the lack of wind and the lift the birds could get from the Marwick Head cliffs, interesting though. There were few moving north but many of these were quite high. One very likely Blue went south but I just didn't get quite the clinching view.

In an hour and a half I heard one Mepit, so Jon I guess they should be queueing up on Whalsay. I might try again tomorrow because there may be more cloud and wind then. Back in Dounby there appeared to be a trickle of Mepits but conditions were less than ideal.

The wagtail situation was resolved to some extent by good views of an adult White and careful viewing of a juv and another less easy to age bird. There was a Pied present too. These could be compared with Pied adults and juvs back in Dounby later so I'm happy with these individuals and the ones yesterday that I suspected (possibly the same individuals). This should point to some Pied/White movement going on I would think. Although on a note of caution M.a.alba do sometimes breed in the northern isles.

Other than the high flying Fulmars ("Get back down here to the waves where you're supposed to be!") Shags were clearly on some sort of outing itinery with flocks of 40 or so (maybe the same flock) flying north then south a few times before 30 or so went north followed swiftly by 72 and then by 18. I'm not sure I've seen a flock of 72 Shags before.

Other seabirds included a Puffin, south; 2 Arctic Terns north; an Arctic Skua, south and 4 Manxies north with one south. Kittiwakes weren't doing much and Gannets were predominantly going south, just.

Nice evening for a tired Black Kite I would have thought ....

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