Monday 31 July 2023

31 July 2023 - Sooty Shearwater on pelagic of the Isles of Scilly

 I've been doing one or two pelagics most years during my annual summer vacation - the rewards have been high, but so are the opportunities for any of a potentially huge range of vagrant oceanic species to occur. Amongst those 'opportunities' are other all-dark shearwaters, perhaps lurking between the more regular sightings of Sooty Shearwater - itself, a species which has travelled thousands of miles to reach UK waters on its annual southern-hemisphere winter (our summer).

So each year, whenever "Sooty Shear" is called, my camera is swung round in the hope of capturing a few in focus pixels for follow-up checking.

The shears this evening were Sooty - but an interesting combination of white in the underwing, forehead 'slope' and bill shape - the latter, certainly ruling out anything more interesting. But I'll keep checking and photographing these, just one day...

31 July 2023 - SOUTH POLAR SKUA off the Isles of Scilly: Golden Balls Strikes Again!

Having had a probable Scopoli's Shearwater on this trip, surely lightening couldn't strike again... It was half way through the evening that someone called 'skua' and with cameras clicking the bonxie-type bird approached the boat. 

Clearly in moult the uniform cold-toned bird flew from the back of the boat before heading away off the starboard  side.  

The very many pictures taken and expertise gathered concluded and confirmed what was being discussed onboard the Sapphire - this was a SOUTH POLAR SKUA!

My luck on these pelagic trips was brilliant - Deserta's Petrel, Zino's Petrel, Scopoli's Shearwater and now South Polar Skua. Will I ever get another seabird tick off Scilly...?

31 July 2023: Scopoli's Shearwater - Isles of Scilly

 Great to be back on the Isles of Scilly - and heading out with Joe Pender and Scilly Pelagics, aboard the MV Sapphire, to see ocean-going seabirds. Recent reports of Scopoli's Shearwaters highlighted this cryptic species as a possible on the menu...

Heading out from Hugh Town harbour, we headed straight for a small-ish feeding frenzy where Gannets, shearwaters and gulls were all having supper on the bait ball trying to escape the Blue-fin Tuna underwater.

Amongst the shearwaters (only the third bird to facilitate close examination of the underwing pattern) was a Cory's-type with clear white on the primaries. A Scopoli's at the first time of asking - but...this is a challenging species-duo and the identification criteria is still being fully ratified. On teh list - for now!

Friday 28 July 2023

28 July 2023 - Queendown Warren - Kent Wildlife Trust

 A few buggie-bits from Queendown Warren this evening

Tuesday 18 July 2023

18 July 2023 - Black-winged Kite at Stubb Mill

 It was at 10pm when the pager went off in the house - the house in which everyone else was trying to go to bed... Muting the alarm, I read the message... MEGA: BLACK-WINGED KITE at the Stubb Mill raptor viewpoint at Hickling Broad NWT reserve, 7:30-8:45pm. Allegedly photographed, but not photographs on social media.

Decision time - hoax or go now? 

By 10:20pm I was off and negotiating the multitude of road closures en route: by 1:45am I was making a bed in the back seats of the truck.  The arrival of so many cars in the car park had me awake by 4:15am - I might as well get up then...

After walking to the Stubb Mill raptor viewpoint, the general consensus was that this could well be a hoax- no one really knew. I wondered off for a bit to see the Cranes and a few other bits - and at the furthest point on my walk, I scanned back to see the birders at the raptor viewpoint running around - I checked the app. The Black-winged Kite was on show! 

A casual sprint...back and seconds later I was enjoying distant views of this vagrant to UK shores! Thanks to Mark Thomas for  the digiscope help!

Very distant Black-winged Kite!

Reed Warbler

Ruddy Darter

Common Cranes

Purple Hairstreak (male)