Monday, 2 May 2011

Good day at Dunge

A smart adult Little Gull was first up on our seawatch at Dungeness this morning ...
... with three passing close inshore during another day of strong up-Channel movements.
With strengthening easterly winds and impressive migration counts still being reported from south coast watchpoints, it was now or never to be part of the action. With four of us keen to catch Pomarine Skua passage before the brief spring window of opportunity closes, I headed down to Dungeness with Roy, David and John at the unfeasibly early hour of 04:00 this morning to get into position.

The closest skua was an Arctic, but for this observer the species was less numerous than ...
... Pomarine Skua, with a total of 10 of the latter (some with full 'spoons') during the morning.
We filled up the last remaining places in the seawatching hide just east of the patch, and timed our run just right - the first bird I set eyes on was a smart adult Little Gull battling against the Force 5 easterly wind, while a short time later the first Poms of the day came through (albeit a long way out).

Bar-tailed Godwit dominated shorebird movements, but they were often accompanied by small numbers of appropriately plumaged Red Knot, as well as Eurasian Whimbrel, Grey Plover, Sanderling and several other species.
,  Poms peaked early today, the last of 10 birds going past at 07:45, and then no more before our five-hour vigil ended at 11.15. So mission accomplished, and then some - even though the strong easterly wind was keeping overall numbers down compared to recent days. Other personal totals included the following (with much higher numbers being recorded collectively by those present): 7 Arctic Skuas, 1 Great Skua, 2 Mediterranean Gulls, 3 Little Gulls, 2 Kittiwakes, Fulmar, numerous Gannets, 7 Black-throated Divers, 2 Red-throated Divers, Velvet Scoter, Brent Goose, 130+ Common Scoter, many hundreds of Common/Arctic Terns, as well as Sandwich, 15 Little and 2 Black Terns, 300+ Bar-tailed Godwit, 62+ Eurasian Whimbrel, 60+ Red Knot, Hobby and Common Swift 'in off'.

Small groups of Common Scoter were regularly heading east up Channel into the wind.
I hope to add more photos from this superb session at Dunge in due course, but it's late now and press week beckons in a few hours, so more anon.

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