Tuesday, 18 October 2011


The west-nor'west wind doth blow so a seawatching I shall go.

Not perfect conditions and I couldn't manage this morn due to the need to aid with wrestling the new boiler into position. However, come lunch time, and having dropped oldest offspring off at her mate's house, it was to the Point of Buckquoy (otherwise known as the Borugh of Birsay car park). Fortunately at this time of year there was no need to jockey for position as for most of the four and a half hours mine was the only car getting battered by the wind, rain, hail, seaspray and other assorted elements.

Now why is it with seawatching that all too often two interesting birds show at once? So in four and a half hours there were four notable birds really. First off after an hour or so a very acceptable juvenile Pom went by close enough to show off all its best features, including the signature underwing. However, not far off two and a half hours, and along came the star of the show, Leach's Petrel making strong headway into the wind and also showing off very nicely. I track back and am immediately I'm onto another juvenile skua but this is no Pom and it doesn't look like an Arctic either, unfortunately it was just a bit of a way out and I was struggling to get the best of views when it was past the car wing mirror and out of view. Even a quick bit of reversing and manouvering couldn't get me back onto it. Trouble was I hadn't tracked back very far from the petrel and it was just too brief a view, but I was pretty sure, but not quite sure enough, that it was a juvenile Long-tail; so it goes.

Half an hour later a blue Fulmar went by close in.

The accompanying cast included an adult, pale phase Arctic Skua, eleven Bonxies, about 150 Kittiwakes including about 30% juveniles, 270 Gannets and unusually for the time of year 290 or so Fulmar. There was a trickle of Guillemots west and a few Razorbills and some Eider as well.

Back home the Yellow-browed had called in the morning, after having a close shave with a Sparrowhawk. A Kestrel was present. Yesterday's two Brambling fed under the feeders as did two Chaffinch. There was a tantalising glimpse of what was probably a male Blackcap, which would be a tetrad and a garden tick.

So all in all a pretty good october day.

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