Monday, December 26, 2011

a little venture off-patch pays off

Out for the first time in a few days and headed to Red Strand to check the off-patch gulls. I wasn't there long as a 1st winter little gull on the beach meant a quick detour to the top of Dirk from where it is possible to scan the distant gulls on Red Strand, provided a dog-walker hasn't flushed them in the meantime! My luck was in today, as the gulls were mostly at the closer end of Red Strand, and the little was still in amongst them (139), before it flew off to play in the surf with some black-heads. Always good to see them at Galley - I think this is about my 4th or 5th on patch over the years, so less than annual - bonus!  And more importantly, it takes me to 3rd in the challenge, with a week still to go!

Thought I'd have a wee look at the sea, as there was a reasonable south-westerly blowing.  There were a good few fulmars, gannets and kittiwakes skelping past, plus the odd band of auks - and in amongst them three darker fulmars slipped through too. This is the most I've seen off Galley in a day, and all were pretty close in. I'd say they were "D" for Dark, but not "DD", in the old Seabirds at Sea lingo.  Better was still to come though, as, whilst staring at the close waves pondering how much longer to give it, I noticed something big and dark flapping through on stiff wings. A quick look through the bins revealed a cracking great shearwater, which was filling the frame through the scope! Awesome! I think it must have been the closest one I've ever seen off Galley, and a very late date too - no records later than October in recent CBRs, although I did see a couple in early November last year I think. Cracking birds altogether!  All in all over the years I've done very little winter seawatching off here. Based on today, maybe I should do a bit more?

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