Blog

Sat 8th October 2011

Posted on October 9, 2011 at 12:15 AM

I was so grateful today that I had been in pain all week. Last Saturday, during a penalty-box skirmish, I managed to get a knee in the ribs. It wasn't a problem at the time, but since then it has been pretty much agony - especially when I sneeze - and I think it is cracked. In fact this is the third time I have injured this rib - clearly my Achilles heel. Anyway, there was no way I could play football this morning, and so I had to drop out. And what do all footballers do when they are unable to play due to injury? They go seawatching of course!!

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I don't do a lot of seawatching - I don't like being so inactive - twice a year is about the sum of it, so I never expect to bump into a great day. But today was fabulous. The first bird I saw when I set up the 'scope in the seawatching hide at Chouet was a Manx Shearwater. Mark G arrived, and from then on for the next 3 hours we saw good birds passing all the time. Bonxies were the main species moving, and we had a total of 53 birds go past, in groups of up to 4 birds. About half passed in front of the reef, and some were exceptionally close like the bird below which came into the bay.

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Bonxie - passing just off the rocks at Chouet, 8 Oct 11

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The next most common species was Sooty Shearwater, and we had 25 of those pass by. A few of these were also in front of the reef and we saw a super flock of 5 whizzing through. Other species noted were 8 Kittiwakes (my first ones of the year!), 3 male Common Scoter, a flock of 4 Golden Plover and a nice group of 10 Skylarks flying low over the waves - my first of the autumn.

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There were also a few smaller skuas, and we had 8 Arctics altogether past, but it was getting to 11 o'clock-ish and we were disappointed that we hadn't had a rarer bird in all this passage. However at 11:10 we picked up a juvenile skua that was coming towards us quite close and straight away it seemed too heavy to be an Arctic. As it got level to us it dangled a fat belly below itself and we were starting to think, on jizz, that it had to be a Pom. We tried to have a good look at the underwing and it did seem to have a lot of white there but it was too distant to see the exact pattern. Luckily, the bird must have caught sight of a gull that it liked the look of, and suddenly turned towards us and chased it really quite close. We could then see very clearly the double white underwing mark of a Pomarine Skua. It was bird of the day and, fair enough if you are a regular seawatcher it's not very special, but it was very exciting for me as I hadn't seen a Pom for ages, and this was my best ever view of one.

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Pomarine Skua - Chouet, 8 Oct 11

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Last week was a very busy week for me, with parents evening, report-writing, meetings etc - and so I didn't get a lot of chance for birding. Monday lunchtime I was at Fort le Crocq where I jammed into a Black Tern slowly passing offshore in the sunny weather. Also, I saw fly in and land on the rocks a very small, pale Peregrine. I thought it might have stood a chance at being an odd-raced bird but an adult Peregrine came to join it and so it was most probably a local youngster.

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small, pale Peregrine - Fort le Crocq, 3 Oct 11

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On Wednesday, I finally caught up with a Rose-coloured Starling at the Richmond end of Vazon. This had been there for about 5 days and there were actually 2 birds together on Monday. After two blank years, I was starting to think that my bold claim of Guernsey being "the best place for RCS in North and Western Europe" was false, but I think it stands up (that's 27 birds in last 15 years).

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juvenile Rose-coloured Starling - Richmond, Vazon, 5 Oct 2011

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Last weekend (the nights of 30th Sep and 1st Oct) I had the moth trap out both nights because of the warm southerly breeze that was happening. I did not get many migrants at all which was a shame, but I did get two new species for the garden. Firstly a superb Merveille du Jour which, although quite common in the UK, is quite rare here and this was a tick for me. Great colours. The other one was a rare micro, but I had had one this spring so wasn't anew one - a Tebenna micalis.

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Merveille du Jour - garden, 1 Oct 2011

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Tebenna micalis - garden, 1 Oct 2011

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The final bit of exciting birding news is the arrival of the new Guernsey Grapevine. With UK birders having moved on to finding out bird news via their pagers and mobile phone alerts, joining those is rather irrelevent to us here on the island and we have been still using the archaic phoning-up-and-talking-to-people method of spreading news. But thanks to Phil A's amazing skillz, we now have an automatic text alert system set-up where we can receive texts to our mobiles when someone starts a "grapevine" off. It's really amazing and is now in the testing stage. I designed a logo (below) which has a little bit of the 'crakes' about it. Note the Guernsey flag behind.

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Categories: 2011 Autumn