Saturday 5th November
Drizzly, dull, light N/W breeze.
Like most birders I suspect, I keep an eye on the weather forecast for the days ahead, and the prediction all last week was for strong north or north east winds this weekend. Needless to say, I was quite excited.
However, my daughter was making a very welcome trip home from university for the weekend, and I was looking forward to seeing her again, as long as it didn't get in the way of my birding of course. My wife had other plans, suggesting a Sunday lunch together, and I was to make the trip taking Chesk back to her accomodation. Then to cap it all, I discovered I was working Saturday morning.
I must admit I was a touch irritable towards the end of the week, but resigned to squeezing in some short trips where i could. On Saturday I dashed home after work, chucked some soup in the microwave, dropped Chesk in town, home again and stuffed my lunch, grabbed the scope and bins and reached Reculver just before 3 o'clock. I met 2 of the Saganauts (Martin and Terry) just leaving, and the news was that it was quiet. Undeterred I walked up to find some shelter at the towers and gave it an hour and a half, until it was near enough dark. I managed 1 Bonxie west, 2 Gannets east and a juv Shag, which I watched for about 10 minutes as it fished close inshore, before climbing out onto the rocks just east of the towers for a few minutes, then flew off east. Whilst obviously smaller than the Cormorants, the Shag was quite brown all over, shown well when it stretched its wings. A small white chin patch was the only white on the bird, and it's flesh-coloured feet were easy to see while sitting on the rocks. I went home reasonably content, and still excited about the following day's seawatch to come.
Sunday 6th November
Strong north winds, cool, misty.
Disaster struck this morning when my alarm didn't go off, or maybe it did and I turned it off. Typical, all autumn I've been up early and out at dawn, but this morning, when it really mattered, I overslept. With a real panic when I did wake, I noticed it was light outside, never a good sign. I lept up, grabbed my clothes and went downstairs to look at the clock. 7:35am. By 8 o'clock I was out the door after a quick breakfast, and just about to set off when I received the dreaded text from Chris Hindle. Something had been seen already at Reculver and I still hadn't left home. With trepidation I had a quick look, and of all things, 2 Great White Egrets had flown past the towers. Unusual birds for a seawatch, and worse for me, I have never seen GWE in the area. Not a good start to the day.
By the time I reached Reculver I was on the end of a line of birders keeping out the wind, with restricted viewing. It was a fun 5 hours birding, I saw 30 or so Bonxies, a Pom, a couple of Arctic Skuas, many large auks, 8o+ Little Gulls, loads of Kittiwakes and Gannets, Mergansers, Scotor and Wigeon.
Monday 7th November
Strong north east winds, dry, mild, dull and misy at sea.
I had a few hours out before work today, so headed up to the towers in the hope of another seawatch. I got there a bit earlier than yesterday, before 8am, and stayed until mid day. It was great fun, just a few birders sheltering from the strong winds. There were plenty birds on the move, mostly flying east. Highlight was undoubtedly a Great Northern Diver close in to the towers for a while, allowing brilliant scope views. Later it was seen flying out to sea.
Birds seen were:
4 Poms, 1 GND, 6 RT Divers, with many more too distant, 20 Kitiwakes, 6 Mergansers, 23 Wigeon, 2 G C Grebes, 3 Eider, 1 Razorbill, many Guillemots and unidentified large auks, and around 980 Lapwing flying out to sea.