Saturday, 25 April 2009

Stercorarius parasiticus...18th April

....or Arctic Skua to you and me! This morning at Rossall Point was one of those mornings this Spring that would be memorable for the passage of Arctic Skuas we had. Now, don't get me wrong we are not talking west coast of Ireland totals or even Flamborough Head, but enough to make it memorable! But more of that later; first to the vis.

It was a case of one eye on the sea and one eye and two ears to the sky this morning. The number of Lesser Redpolls has been notable so far this spring and we haven't yet reached the normal peak of their passage. They must also be one of the earliest birds on the move as they are always the first birds I hear as I get out of my car at first light. This morning was no exception and we recorded 7 heading north.

Lesser Redpoll in the hand

Tree Pipits have featured this spring and this morning I had 4 of these high flying diurnal migrants. I think that Tree Pipit should receive the prize for the highest flying diurnal migrant as they are rarely seen even if they are calling clearly; closely followed by Siskin and Lesser Redpoll. Other vis totals included 5 Sand Martins, 28 Swallows, 69 Linnets, 2 Carrion Crows, 75 Goldfinch, 14 Woodpigeons, 36 Siskins, 3 Chaffinch, 2 White Wagtails, 5 Collared Doves and 183 Meadow Pipits.

Besides the aforementioned Arctic Skuas, or Parasitic Jaegers for any North American readers, the sea was quite good as well. Good numbers of Sandwich and particularly Arctic Terns were noted with 14 and 103 of each respectively. It is quite tricky sometimes estimating the numbers of Terns as it can be easy to duplicate counts if birds are on a feeding circuit. I had my first Manx Shearwater of the spring and this was accompanied by 12 Gannets and 10 Little Gulls.

Common Scoters numbered 57 and Eiders 147. Twelve Red-throated Divers headed east into Morecambe Bay and Auks were moving in the same direction with 29 Auk sp., 4 Razorbills and 7 Guillemots. On the wader front were 2 Whimbrel and 104 Sanderlings.

Now to the Arctic Skuas. We had 4 pale morphs and 4 dark morphs head into the 'Bay' presumably to cross over-land at some point. The beauty of spring seawatching is that generally a lot of the seabirds, including Skuas, are close in and this morning was no exception as all the Skuas were close in giving stonking views.

I nipped into Fleetwood Cemetery on my way home and all I had was a single Willow Warbler and 2 Siskin. Back home I emptied my moth trap and all I had were 3 Early Greys and a single Double-striped Pug.

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