Tuesday, 19 April 2011

South coast seawatching

St Catherine's Point at the southern tip of the Isle of Wight: prime seawatching estate.
Greetings from the Isle of Wight, home for a week in the run-up to Easter. This is family time with birds fitted in as and when, but I have finally managed to tick off a legendary birding site: St Catherine's Point. The quickest of glances at a map will immediately reveal why this is such a good place at migration times, but it is legendary in my book for one particular reason: a fly-by Wallcreeper on a seawatch!

Common Buzzard at St Catherine's Point. By far and away the commonest raptor on the island.
There has been a dearth of Wallcreepers this week, but the seawatching has certainly been worthwhile. For example, here are this morning's totals from my stint at the lighthouse from 07:35-10:10, with the great majority of birds moving east up the Channel: 3 Shelduck, 118 Common Scoter, 23 Gannets, 12 Fulmars, 3 Cormorants, 14 Whimbrel, 1 Arctic Skua (pale adult), 1 Mediterranean Gull (first-summer), 2 Common Gulls, 3 Kittiwakes, 23 Sandwich Terns, 19 Arctic Terns, 1 Little Tern, 3 auk spp, plus 2 Yellow Wagtails and, most unexpected of all, a Kestrel 'in off'.

Most passing seabirds were way out of photographic range, bar this Gannet ...
... and (only just) this pale morph adult Arctic Skua.
A fly-by ring-tail Hen Harrier yesterday near Brook Down was another surprise, but the clear skies and high temperatures mean that these easterlies have so far produced few passerine surprises. More anon ...

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