Monday, April 19, 2010

18th April,2010.

Having learned that skuas had been seen on passage past the Outer Hebrides I spent time seawatching over several hours, including testing a new observation site. Figures were derived from the first two hours with "searching for quality" occupying the rest of the time, the point being that it's difficult to count birds of different species, moving in various directions whilst systematically scanning aereas!!

Gannets were moving,with in excess of 250 north and around 120 south, all adults and presumably on feeding movements. Auks were also on the move with parties exceeding 300 moving north and singles and pairs returning south, again to feeding grounds presumed , from reports , to be off SW Islay. Local Fulmar, i.e.presumed Islay birds , fed offshore but appeared not to be moving elsewhere contrasted against a small passage of Red-throated Diver northwards. Kittiwakes were of interest with birds on the move in both directions, again considered to be relatively local birds moving to and from feeding areas. Manx Shearwater numbers continue to increase with virtually equal numbers north and south. Later an offshore feeding area was watched for quite a time with 40-50 birds present all of which gradually moved east as the food source moved along the surface.An odd Shelduck went north , as did a Greenshank, a Ringed Plover and a couple of Whimbrel.The spring upsurge in Goldfinch numbers continues with birds moving through and small numbers continually "dropping into" the garden during the day.

Despite all the effort, no skuas were seen, which puts an interesting focus on their springtime movements. Some birds do come past Islay northwards out of the Irish Sea and some appear to move east along Islay's south coast; some enter the Solway Firth, gain height and head off overland. Possibly the Outer Hebrides birds have circumvented the west coast of Ireland altogether and then swung NNE? A fascinating picture that proves there is still much we don't really know in detail about some bird movements.

As can be read on the Islay Wildlife site, one of the integrated objectives of the day was for any observations on cetaceans but, despite a favourable flat sea, none were recorded.

No comments: