Monday, 6 May 2013

Roseate’s save the day.

Fog, 14º, light E, quite cool still.

I awoke this morning at 04:45 to the sound of the lighthouse siren going and on looking out the window the bill was shrouded in fog, so, back to bed again. Eventually getting up at 07:30, still foggy so showered and had breakfast. The garden was very quiet with no migrants obvious a little later a Sedge Warbler was heard and a couple of Willow Warbler seen. The fog still shrouded the east of the island but was clearing to the west; therefore we could not see the sea to the east from the observatory.
I took a walk down to the bill to try and find a few waders that were present and eventually found a few Rock Pipit, three Purple Sandpiper, a Common Sandpiper and two Oystercatcher. A walk later in the top fields found a single Wheatear and a few singing Whitetroat and around a dozen Swallows but that was it, still foggy.

It wasn’t until around 16:00 that the fog cleared the east of the island and the sea was then visible so a sea watch was in order. A few went down to the bill (approx 1km from the Obs) and took a radio with them. Shortly after a call went up for a skua passing the bill which we then saw and the rest is as follows over the next four hours. The skua was an Arctic Skua followed later by three more (incl a pale phase bird), more chat on the radio and a Great Northern Diver and good numbers of “comic” Tern of which around forty were identified as Arctic Tern and the rest as Common Tern by the bill observers. We then had a call that a Roseate Tern was feeding of the bill and try as we could we could not identify it from the Obs at that distance among the other feeding terns, however we did find a Black Tern amongst them. After another call we drove down to the bill but in the five minutes it took to get there the tern had moved on but a Red-throated Diver and a Pomarine Skua flew by, a reasonable result. We came back to the Obs and decided to have dinner but around thirty minutes later we had another radio call to say there were now two Roseate Tern feeding off the bill. So, jumping in the car again we got down to the bill and this time the two terns were still present thankfully, which we then watched for several minutes before they moved on! Also around twelve Manx Shearwater, eight Whimbrel and six Bar-tailed Godwit passed by. By the time we got back to the Obs dusk was here so that was it for the day. A very slow but ultimately successful day.
Just another note I walked out the Obs at around 21:40 only to see an owl fly down the drive and loop over the garden, I only saw it in silhouette but it was likely to be a Long or Short-eared Owl, more likely the former. We will look for it tomorrow.

 Purple Sandpipers in the fog
Rock Pipit

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