Saturday, 10 July 2010

Saturday 10th July: Pendeen

Saturday morning started grey and overcast and a bit drizzly (though it brightened up later) as I arrived for my first sea-watching session at the new patch. Round behind the lighthouse in the shelter of the lighthouse wall I found a nice concrete seat at just the right height. From there one had a good view of the rocks that lie just off shore which according to the OS map are called either "The Wra" or "The Three Stone Oar". I trained my scope on the left-hand most one and then moved it up so the rock was just out of view. This gave me a nice marker for finding my viewing spot each time so that if I moved off to follow a bird in flight I could always come back to my spot again. I'm sure that all this will be obvious to regular sea watchers at Pendeen but for me it was all new.

"The Wra". I trained my scope just beyond the left-hand rock.

The Gurnard's Head shortly after dawn

It was obvious from the start that there was quite a lot of activity this morning. To keep track of things I counted the manx shearwaters that went by and over the course of the two hours and twenty minutes that I was there I had a total of 480 birds which comes out at over 200 birds per hour so there was always something to look at. There were perhaps a couple of dozen auks that went through: a mix of razorbills and guillemots. Fulmars nest on the cliffs near the lighthouse so there were plenty of those around and a few kittiwakes flew through looking as beautifully elegant as ever. There were the ubiquitous gannets flying through and the resident shags on the rocks. At around 7:30 I picked up a shearwater that instantly looked different:it had a pot-bellied look and when it rolled to reveal its underside instead of being the clean white of a manxie it was rather a grubby pale brown with a smudged borderline between the brown upper body and the paler underbelly: a balearic shearwater - very nice! I watched if for a minute or so as it worked its way south-west. Later that day one was seen at PG so it may have been the same bird working it's way around the Land's End peninsula. At a little after 8 a.m. I had to pack up but it had been a very enjoyable first morning's birding at Pendeen.

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