Saturday, July 19, 2014

I'm Waiting For The Manx


First thing you learn is that you always gotta wait.... A hugely enjoyable day spent sea-watching in humid, pleasant conditions here on the North Yorks coast, with the stars of the show being Manx Shearwaters. I arrived at the hide at 0745, with BP and JS already there (and with little to report); cue the timely entrance stage-left of processions of Manxies (amongst many other species on the move), with groups into double figures gliding elegantly past the hide on an increasingly regular basis.


By midday we'd clocked up more than 400, but with the others having left and with pressing matters to attend to back at the ranch, I decided to stay put for a while longer and enjoy the first really impressive day of sea-watching this year instead. Surges of Manxies continued, with flocks of up to 20 not unusual - and one of 36 - until a general ebbing of movements around 1400. A joy to watch, and a notably high count for recent years.

Common Scoters numbered over 300...
 
By 1445 the rolling total had reached 616 Manxies (and a cracking 203 Whimbrel), and after seven hours straight, it was time to reluctantly bail. Although conditions weren't especially promising - light variable winds and thunderstorms - the temptation to return for an evening session was too much to resist, and so I was back in position for 1820 for a distinctly relaxed couple of hours on a perfectly deserted Brigg.

.... while the few Arctic Skuas were all scruffy non-breeders, boding well for upcoming tallies
 
With no expectations, Manxies (and Whimbrels) were thankfully still on the move, and thus those arbitrary milestones came in to play - 700 Manx before dark? A series of large flocks happily took the total beyond, and with a half hour or so of light remaining, it seemed churlish not to gun for 800....

A small portion of today's 264 Whimbrel - possibly a record count
 
Bonxie - a couple this morning
 
..... a target just nailed as the dew settled on the scope and the light faded. 805 - the biggest tally since 2008, and every single one a pleasure to behold.