Champions of the Flyway!

Saturday, July 31, 2021

Filey seawatching, 31st July '21

A much-needed, unplanned and restorative day off (thanks Rich!), and so a relative lie-in followed by two three-hour plus seawatching sessions, morning and afternoon, from the end of Carr Naze here in Filey. Mild, stormy and with a light to moderate NW (swinging N in the afternoon), I was in the mood for bit of extended zen sea-staring, and I got more than I expected.
Highlights included a Balearic Shearwater (the first of the year locally), which appeared among one of many scattered feeding frenzies offshore mid-morning - after a cosy ten minutes avoiding the flying knives of Gannet's bills hitting the surface, drifting off south; a juvenile Yellow-legged Gull close and south; two Minke Whales about a kilometre offshore late in the afternoon, again enjoying the sudden bounty on offer; and, wonderfully, this pristeen, sleek, gorgeous adult Long-tailed Skua, which appeared high up and close-in just as I was packing up for the morning session - amazing views, and it even kindly looped back around (thanks, Kittiwakes) for a few hazy photos. Just what I needed.

Thursday, July 29, 2021

Scotland & Lindisfarne, July '21 (final part)

Lindifarne's northern beaches - unspolit and bird-filled even on a peak-season Sunday afternoon 

After our last day in the Highlands we drove south, staying in Dunfermline overnight; but not before trying our luck on the reason for breaking up the journey home there - namely, a long-staying Sei Whale off the Fife coast. I realised our chances were slim with the brief window of opportunity available, but by early evening, we were on the seafront at Kinghorn just above the harbour, in the company of drunk (but entirely good-humoured) teens and sunburned elders; and within five minutes of setting up the 'scope, there it was, blowing, rolling gently, and filling my field of view like the gentle giant you'd hope it to be. Which was more than enough - so when a large pod of dolphins bounded into the Firth at full speed, it got even better; and when they turned out to be not one of the commoner North Sea-dwelling species, but Short-beaked Common Dolphins (rare away from the Atlantic coasts of the UK) it got better still, and watching their breathtakingly fast progress towards the Forth Bridge was the perfect way to bookend our time North of the border.
The view from Kinghorn - cetaceans-a-g-go 

After the drive south and then east, the following day (our last of the trip) was spent at one of favourite and regular haunts, Lindisfarne. We usually visit in the autumn or winter, and so the visitor numbers were, well, higher than we're used to; nonetheless it took just a few minutes to escape the masses as we headed north via footpaths to the dunes and beaches on a round-island walk.
As well as unspoilt sandy beaches, turquoise waters, dunes and relative tranquility, there were also Sanderlings, and a lot of them. I counted a minimum of 313 (although there were likely more, spread among several large groups), the most I can recall seeing anywhere, with many still in fine rusty breeding plumage.
Back into the village for dinner by the Abbey (and to stock up on mead at the Winery), and then grudgingly homeward bound down the coast back to Yorkshire. A lovely adventure in some very lovely places, and just the decompression we were seeking.

Scotland, July '21 in pictures (part three)

Days five, six and seven of our Scottish adventure saw us immersing ourselves and exploring the Highlands at a slow, gentle pace, from the Cairngorms to the valleys, lochs and the forests, in warm sunshine and perfect conditions.

Monday, July 26, 2021

Pelagic shots, 23rd & 24th July '21

A few from our two YCN pelagics out of Staithes this weekend - Common Scoters (big numbers on the move), Gannets fishing, Fulmar, Guillemot and Razorbill young, juvenile Mediterranean Gull, Harbour Porpoise.

Thursday, July 22, 2021

Scotland, July '21 in pictures (part two)

Day Four saw us heading north from Grantown, to the coast (via an impromptu diversion to marvel at some pretty wonderful Pictish carved stonemasonry), and more specifically, to Spey Bay. Again warm and soon once again sunny, we strolled the shingle banks of the estuary and beach - I in the company of a very accommodating flock of Sanderlings (above and below), Amity 'beach-cleaning' with a plastic shark grabber she found on the strandline. It's good to have different interests.
The bay and estuary were packed with birds, including Ospreys and Little Terns (pictured)
Another diversion for a picnic lunch, this time to Rothiemay neolithic stone circle, hidden in the countryside further east. After falling asleep there for a while, it was vaguely disappointing not to wake up in either another time or universe, but otherwise, the stones were impressive.
Back near base for the afternoon, and a walk in nearby Anagach forest with our friend Sue and companion Loki; after catching up with Simon (Pawsey - another local good friend and highly recommeded wildlife guide for Cairngorms Birding), it really feels like it'd be easy to settle up here. (Huge donations towards house / land purchase gratefully accepted).