Sunday, 22 September 2013

RSPB Skua Cruise & Filey Brigg 21.09.13

Following last years brilliant cruise I decided to try my luck again this year. Arriving at 9:30am on a very calm and sunny day I had Deja vu of last years cruise with very similar conditions. I managed to pick out 4 Purple Sandpipers on the harbour wall - a reliable site for my year tick! There were also plenty of turnstones about amongst them. On boarding the boat I met up with my friend Nick (check out his blog here!) and his friend Sue who had driven from Norfolk at 3am, the things us birders do!!

It turned out to be a fairly quiet cruise, we headed east from Bridlington but there was a distinct lack of birds. Eventually we turned north and finally picked up our first Skua - a very distant Bonxie (Great Skua). Along the way we picked up more and more Gannets - the order of the day. We also picked up a few Guillemots and Razorbills in winter plumage.

                                                                 Guillemot (Uria aalge)

                                                           Razorbill (Alca torda)

Whilst chumming off the back of the boat we picked up fairly large numbers of gulls - herring, great black backed, black headed and one suspected yellow legged gull. A few fulmars also got in on the feeding frenzy.

                                                             Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)

I finally managed my first ever glimpse of a Harbour Porpoise after several sightings which I missed (a theme from last years cruise!) and also picked out a small tortoishell butterfly on migration (with others seen too miles out to sea).

                                                                   Harbour Porpoise            

                                                                Small Tortoishell butterfly

A few Kittiwakes joined us throughout the cruise and an interesting bird seen was this flightless juvenile gannet, fantastic black and white plumage!

                                                              Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)

                                                            Juvenile Gannet (rowing away!)
                                                       Juvenile Gannet (Morus bassanus)

This was about as exciting as it got, until 2 of these beauties buzzed the boat low and fast!


                                      I also found this Buoy interesting enough to photograph!

We set off back to the harbour after a quiet cruise, just 2 distant Great Skuas seen (and possibly 1 arctic skua seen by others). No sign of any shearwaters though, suggestion on the boat was a name change to RSPB Gull and Gannet cruise?!

And then.... at last! A keen eyed birder picked up a grebe shaped object, the boat was hastily turned and the bird re-found. And boy was it worth it - a Red-necked Grebe (bird of the day and lifer for me). This made it worth the wait for me!

                                                   Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)

Returning to the harbour this obliging common tern perched up for a few photos!

                                                           Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)

And that was the end of the cruise, a fairly quiet 4 hours but thorougly enjoyed by myself, and i've managed to get burnt again! I look forward to joining one of the 2014 cruises. There are still some cruises running this year, if you're interested just click here.

After the Cruise myself, Nick and Sue headed to Filey Brigg for the reported Yellow-browed Warbler - a bird which breeds in Siberia and migrates South West this time of year, often stopping off to feed in the UK. After walking to the end of the Brigg we thought we were out of luck, but walking back up another path we noticed a birder taking photos and there it was, just yards below us feeding on the side of the Brigg. Cracking little bird and fantastic views were had, ive seen one before but it was a fleeting view, so it was fantastic to appreciate the birds characteristics. It was about the size of a Goldcrest (my favourite small bird), more green in colour but with a yellow brow, hence the name!

                                           Yellow-Browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)

And finally - thanks for sticking with me, sorry for the lack of updates recently, i've not had much time for birding lately with one thing and another so the full day of birding was thorougly enjoyed! Until next time......