Saturday, 13 March 2010

Sky Divers

As I pulled into the car park at Rossall Point at 0545 I thought we had made a mistake in not going ringing at Rossall School. However, within ten minutes the wind picked up and I was reassured that I had made the right call.

At first light it was clear and very cold with a 10 mph northwesterly wind and by 0620 there was complete cloud cover! Within half an hour of this it cleared again and this was the pattern with the weather all morning. The first birds of the morning were the Eiders that were moving around on the incoming tide and in total I had 55. A few Red-breasted Mergansers were about and twelve is the total in my notebook.

Up until December (2009) there had been good numbers of Common Scoters off Rossall, but since then numbers have declined and this morning all we had were 17 moving around in ones and twos.

The most interesting birds of the morning were the Red-throated Divers, or should I say 'sky divers', based on the height that some of them were flying. We had 31 'Red-throats' go east into Morecambe Bay and all of them would slowly climb as they were heading east. Several of the birds were so high that when you had them in the scope you couldn't see any sea at all! These birds would obviously be making an over-land crossing at some point, but where exactly I am not sure.

'Red-throat' courtesy of Simon Hawtin

We also had good numbers of Kittiwakes this morning, 119 in total, and again they were all heading east into the bay. Some of these birds were flying very high giving the impression that they too would be making an over-land crossing. Fascinating stuff.

In addition to the Kittiwakes there were also large numbers of Gulls and some of them were feeding in large numbers on the sea, presumably having found a shoal of fish. It could well have been this that attracted the thirteen adult Gannets we had, which is very early for these kind of numbers. A few Auks were on the move and we had ten in total.

Waders were conspicuous by there absence and there were very few being pushed up the shore on the incoming tide other than fifteen Sanderlings, a handful of Ringed Plovers and 68 Oystercatchers. There was a steady easterly passage of Curlews and we had 34 in total.

As ever with eyes focusing on the sea, ears were concentrating skywards listening out for diurnal migrants. On 'vis' we had Grey Wag, three Pied Wags, Reed Bunt, Linnet, 12 Meadow Pipits and seven Goldfinch all heading northeast. Nothing was grounded other than a male Stonechat and this could well be the local resident male.

At the moment the forecast is similar for tomorrow in terms of wind strength so I don't imagine we'll get any ringing in at the 'obs', it will be another morning on the sea off Rossall.


Pete Marsh said...

Yes, you have brought on a great sense of shame - I didnt get to Heysham until 0900hrs & missed the diver/Kittiwake passage bar a handful

Will be out earlier tomorrow and not get distracted by moth traps en route

Fleetwood Birder said...

My turn this morning Pete. Turned the alarm off and rolled over! When I did get up I was on edge in case Ian sent me a text telling me what I had missed and by now (1010) he hasn't, so I can breath easy as I know he won't be seawatching and will be doing his WEBS count.

Pete Marsh said...

By the way to call yourself an observatory, you need a moth trap :-)