23 Jun 2013

Summer seawatch!

A summer north westerly off Hilbre is sometimes productive for Storm Petrel so with other plans being cancelled due to inclement weather a change of focus was called for and plans duly made to go to Hilbre over the tide. Cheshire year lister Mark was to ill to join the trip last night but changed his tune this morning so I hung on for him with the ultimatum he had to be at mine no later than 08.15 otherwise we'd miss crossing before the tide cut us off.

It was slightly surreal bouncing across the beach between West Kirby and Little Eye in a force 7 -8 gale listening to the Beach Boys 'Surfing USA' on the radio. With this wind behind them any US east coast surfers could easily have ended up off Hilbre!

Arriving to find Degsy had already put the kettle on we piled on the layers before having a brew and battling the elements to the sea-watching hide. Opening the observation slits and surveying the maelstrom around us it soon became clear there were Manx Shearwaters everywhere!  We estimated 5000+ between 09.30 and 13.30.  With squally rain and high winds some were coming close in before being blown down the west side down the Dee Estuary.

Quite a few Gannets were also battling to try and get out of the Mersey and a few Kittiwakes were also picked up. Storm displaced Guillemots and Razorbills either hunkered down on the sea to sit it out or tried flying into the wind before getting blown back inshore. We counted at least 5 Fulmars heading the same direction and a distant Arctic Skua.

Small groups of Common Scoter were picked up out towards the wind farms and a few non-breeding Great-crested Grebes lingered but no Storm Petrels. Still, we can't complain. Probably the best ever Manx Shearwater passage I've seen off the N West coast and it provided Mark with four new birds for his Cheshire year list campaign.

Amongst all the excitement we had time for a quick fry up in the Obs and another brew before heading out for the final couple of hours. Apologies to Kenny for borrowing his mug........

1 comment :

DaveE said...

Hi Phil, the ravens I've mentioned in the past have this year fledged 2 possibly 3 young.