July passed in a blur, with a fair bit of effort put in but little or no reward! However a run of south-westerlies at the start of August surely had to bring more seabirds to the coast?
An early session on the 1st produced 4 great shearwaters, 14 sooty shearwaters, 1 pomarine skua and 72 puffins, while another morning watch on the 2nd scored 2 more great shearwaters, a couple of large shears and 17 sooties. With conditions looking good that afternoon I headed out again and on arrival was rooted to the spot for the next 6 hours! After a heavy shower, Cory's shearwaters began streaming steadily past in small groups at a range of distances from shore. They were coming by every minute or so. Now and again, great shearwaters would also come through, either singly or mixed in with groups of Cory's. My two clickers were put to good use as over the next few hours numbers crept up, until It was almost dark, but they were still passing. The tally finished up on 1,000+ Cory's shearwaters, 32 great shearwaters, 52 sooty shearwaters, 5 pomarine skuas, 7 bonxies, 3 arctic skuas & 40 puffins.
Back for more at first light on the 3rd. The lighthouse had been on when I'd left the night before, and was still on when I arrived, but with the wind still blowing out of the south-west I had to go back! The first bird through the scope was a Cory's - had they been passing all night? By the end of the session, I'd racked up another 310 Cory's shearwaters, 32 great shearwaters, 61 sooty shearwaters, 4 pomarine skuas and 7 bonxies.
If anything, conditions looked better by the afternoon, with heavy showers passing through and the wind increasing a little. As luck would have it, I was able to escape both work & the kids again and flaked back up. Numbers of Cory's were lower by now, but there was a higher proportion of great shears in the mix, meaning you really had to concentrate to separate the two at times - great practice! Another four hours passed quickly, with 154 Cory's shearwaters, 58 great shearwaters and 32 sooty shearwaters in the bag. However, the best was left till last when I finally scored a long-tailed skua at Galley! Skua numbers had been good that afternoon, with 10 pomarine skuas, 5 bonxies and an arctic skua through, so when KC called up another arctic, I thought I'd liven things up by saying "it looks a bit delicate", as I was still trying to find it in the scope. Five seconds after seeing it, we were both repeating "it looks a bit delicate", and then the penny dropped! Fantastic to finally see one off Galley, and it was only my second for Cork, after a juv on Cape way back in September '91. This was a cracking adult, albeit without the tail streamers, but awesome none the less!
|Rainbow's end produced Long-tailed Skua shortly after|
I was quite relieved when the wind finally swung away from south-west that night. Looking back, it was an amayzing spell of seawatching, and easily my highest tally of Cory's in one day. Wonder if that's seawatching over for the year? Hope not - must go check Windfinder...