Sunday, 6 November 2016
North Ronaldsay Seawatch Gives Us Yet Another Great Bird
Sunday 6th November Very strong N – easing to strong later
heavy showers AM, cold 7C
The day starts with a message from Nepal on Facebook. Mike Grundeman is asking how things are going. Attached is a superb photograph that reminds me I haven't been in mountain regions for a couple of years.
Out early again, cycling into the gale and showers with Samuel Perfect to go and seawatch from the hide on the north-west coast of North Ronaldsay.
The last two days had been tough weather wise and although this morning is no different one can only go so long before raising one's binoculars.
Only minutes pass once we have set up and I shout . . .
“No, it can't be........... Yes it is! White-billed diver heading north.”
The diver is very close to the shore and flying straight past us. Flying just above the waves prevents it from being lost in the waves and swell. Both of us have great views of such a rare bird.
Maybe we are tired but we don't display the same ebullience we had with the Fea's petrel a week ago. Instead we carefully go through the features we both saw and it is handshakes and congratulations.
White-billed diver, bird number 315 BOU.
Texts are sent and I phone Mum and Dad with the news of yet another Green year tick.
Back to the seawatch, sooty shearwaters are passing but in fewer numbers than recently.
Erin and George arrive from the Bird Observatory and together the four of us seawatch for an hour or so.
Soon after they have left, George phones to say he has something avian to show us. Their Land Rover is parked about one hundred yards away and Erin is sitting with a juvenile gannet on her lap. They take it back to the Observatory for assessment, processing and ringing before releasing it from the harbour.
I start a one hour count. The final figures for that hour are as follows:-
Auk sp, 36
Litte auk 2
Sooty shearwater 12
Great black backed gull 16
Common gull 45
Herring gull 7
Purple sandpiper 1
Long-tailed duck 3
Totals for the three and a half hour seawatch :-
Sooty shearwater 27
White-billed diver 1
Great Northern diver 1
Red-throated diver 3
Little auk 3
12:30 Samuel and I start to cycle back towards the Observatory. We stop to look over a large pool; two pairs of gadwall, one pair of shovelor and a pair of red-breasted mergansers on here with 26 bar-tailed godwits on the side.
Around twenty snipe are sheltering behind a tall dry stone wall and a little further we come across the bar-tailed godwits again in a field.
A relaxing afternoon, I read about the race over in the US, not for the Presidency but for the Big Year. Always fascinating, this year is no different and the ABA (American Birding Association) Blog details the four front runners.