RSPB Cruise, 4th September 2011
Very happy to be asked again to be a ‘caller’ on one of the annual RSPB Skua and Shearwater cruise organised by Sal and Keith and their team. (Book soon I think they will fill up quick after this one!). The last one I was involved with was 4 years ago when we had a close juvenile Long-tailed Skua and a fly over wild adult Snow Goose (arriving with Pink-feet Geese). Phil Palmer was there last time. So it was good to join forces with him again.
What would we see today?
The sea was a glassy ‘millpond’. No wind. Not good for Shearwaters to fly in. I don’t think optimism was high! However the old rule: To see more, get out more! At least we were out, looking. The tipping point was seeing a distant line of hundreds and hundreds of post breeding flightless auks. Adult and juvenile Guillmots and Razorbills with small handful of Puffin.
The little dark dots on the sea (left side of boat) are loads of auks. Maybe this is where the good stuff would be? Indeed it was. Our highlights:
Sabine’s Gull 1 adult, Sooty Shearwater 1, Balearic Shearwater 1, Manx Shearwater 4, Little Gull 40+, Black Tern 9, Arctic Skua 7, Great Skua 1, Arctic Tern 3+, Red-throated Diver 5 etc etc…
Adult summer plumaged Sabine’s Gull. Always a highlight. Flew straight across the bows of the Yorkshire Belle and was away. Unfortunately the close but brief appearance meant not all got on to it. © Phil Palmer (Bird Holidays) (he got much better pics than me!)
Superb views of Harbour Porpoise were had a close range. Some seemed to come right out of the water © Michael Flowers (see his blog)
juvenile Arctic Skua. Several well seen, including juveniles and pale and dark morph adults. © Martin Standley (more of his photos here)
moulting Manx Shearwater © Martin Standley (more of his photos here)
Sooty Shearwater. One well seen by all on the boat © Martin Standley (see more here)
Balearic Shearwater was a nice surprise. All 3 photos © Michael Flowers (see his blog)
Over 40 Little Gulls included some lovely black patterned juveniles and first winters © Martin Standley (see more here)
Adult Arctic Tern. Close views of several Arctic Tern amoung more numerous Common Tern included both adult and juvenile © Martin Standley (see more here)
The commoner birds were excellent too. Several groups of feeding/ diving Gannets were encountered. © Martin Standley (see his blog here)