I have long wished to visit the Solway Firth in spring, when there is an appropriate "big blow", to witness the passage of skuas eastwards along the Firth out of the Irish Sea, where they then rise abruptly in the farthest ,narrow confines and continue their journey overland to the North Sea and beyond. Matthew was similarly enthused by the prospect, given the right conditions appeared to be in play, and so we had decided to indulge in a very long day and , hopefully, witness the phenomenon.
An early start saw us call in first at the viewing point associated with the breeding OSPREY at Bassenthwaite. Unfortunately the birds have decided to choose a different nesting tree so views are a little distant and unsatisfactory. Things will improve once the pair are feeding young and more activity is in evidence.
Onward to the Solway where we stationed ourselves at the appointed spot and waited for the anticipated mixture of Arctic, Pomarine, Great and Long-tailed Skuas that must surely flood through given the previous and existing weather conditions. Reports of numbers of Long-tailed Skuas off the Ayr coast ensured our expectations and enthusiasm remained high. Seven hours later, and two ARCTIC SKUA, and we began to flag a little. Then a report of a Ross's Gull a couple of miles down the road came through which, given the lack of activity, obviously caught our interest. Arriving on site all that was to be seen were four LITTLE GULL, with no sign of the rather rarer relative! We fast concluded some mistake had arisen and returned to our previous spot only to discover a small party of Long-tailed Skua had gone through!! Mid evening saw us returning home, dreams and expectations dashed given the surrounding circumstances had been so perfect for not just a good day , but a truly exceptional day. Whether some future opportunity might arise when weather and convenience coincide is anybody's guess.........
The necessary palliative of an Indian take away did little to quell our disappointment, but it restored our energy levels after a rather long day.