Monday, 24 August 2015

Seabird Spectacluar

Part of the massive Kittiwake and Tern flock just before my phone battery died! Gutted. I hadn't taken my camera due to the torrential rain! 
One of the dark phase Arctic Skuas taken with my iPhone! Just to show how close it was.

People pay big money to go and see the seabird flocks in the Pacific, in fact this was a selling point of some of the bird fair wildlife holiday companies which I visited on Friday. Early Saturday morning and I was watching the seabird spectacular at Ynyslas- thousands of Manxys streaming past. Surely as impressive as any of the aforementioned Pacific spectacles. 20,000+ at a guess? After two hours of watching a browner bird flew to the back of the flock, it took a while to pick it out again but as soon as I did, it's buffy underparts and unique looking structure confirmed it as a nice Balearic Shearwater- not an easy bird to see this year by all accounts. 60+ Kittiwakes, 50+ Gannets and some Sandwich Terns added to the spectacle. 3 Golden Plover, Greenshank, 20+ Sanderling and a few small flocks of Dunlin and ringed Plover also present.
However, nothing prepared me for Sunday! I played it cool during the morning due to the weather, only popping out to look at the 270 or so Med Gulls at Aberystwyth. I arrived at Ynyslas as the rain subsided and just after high tide. Wow! The feeding frenzy was literally meters offshore. Again thousands of Manxy, hundreds of Gannets but this time joined by an amazing number of Kittiwakes and terns! To start with the flock was in the Dyfi on a distant emerging sandbank, however the birds slowly dispersed as the tide receded. At least 600 Kittiwakes were present, possibly up to 1000 as many were coming and going. I read six colour ringed combos and early enquiries show them to be French birds! Amongst the terns were three cracking adult winter Black Terns, part of an unprecedented influx into Britain yesterday! 150+ Sandwhich Terns, 50+ Common Tern, at least 5 Arctics and on about the 50th scan of the flock a superb adult Roseate Tern emerged! A single Little Tern fed out on the bay but didn't enter the mouth of the estuary. Six species of tern and I hadn't moved my feet! Watching was constantly disturbed by amazing views of two dark phase Arctic Skua bombarding the flock and chasing birds above the point right above my head, sometimes just meters away. At one point all birds took off but this time it was an Osprey flying out of the estuary! The poor waders didn't get a look in but I was conscious that 30+ Sandwrling, Common Sandpiper, Turnstone, Whimbrel and flocks of Dunlin and Ringed plover were present. 100+ Linnet were on the foreshore as well. Surely one of the most amazing seabird spectacles in Europe and certainly one of the best afternoon's birding I've ever had in this country.
This morning was a little more sedate at Llanrhystyd, 30+ Med Gulls, Greenshank and a colour ringed Whimbrel brining me back down to earth.