Saturday, 27 October 2018

26th October, Pendeen Sea-watch & a Troubled Journey Home

With the weather forecast to deteriorate over the weekend, we decided to head back on the Friday. However, with a strong north westerly wind forecast it seemed rude not to pop down to the Watch first thing to try out the sea for a bit. I wasn't in a particular hurry and didn't arrive until 8:40 a.m. where to my surprise I found that I had the place to myself. Too late in the season I guess for the hardcore locals but as a visitor, I had to take my chances when I could get them. The wind turned out to be a bit more northerly than expected and it was hard to find somewhere sheltered and in the end, instead of the usual spot in the corner where everyone sits I opted for a corner further east where a small "step" in the wall offered a bit of a corner to hide behind. 

White horses on a stormy Pendeen sea

Having got myself set up, I was no more than five minutes in, noting a constant passage of Auks and Kittiwakes, when the big lumbering shape of a Bonxie hove into view. It's always nice to get the first notable bird of the session under ones belt and I watched with satisfaction as it passed by fairly close in. Some fifteen minutes later I spotted something else: it seemed to be shearing away and in the first instance I was therefore thinking Shearwater but on closer inspection turned out to be an adult pale-phase Skua. It's jizz was clearly too light for a Pom and I just managed to make out a breast band and the extended tail and concluded that it was an Arctic.

DB and her family arrived and went to settle in the more traditional viewing spot. I went over to say hello and to check out the wind there but decided that it was still winder than where I was so I returned to my spot. A little while later I picked up a dark-phase Sku. With it's wide "arm" and powerful purposeful flight it could only be a Pom. I watched it as it flew west only to discover that it was with a couple of pale-phased birds as well. Very nice! After they passed I went over to the other party who'd also seen them and we all agreed on Pom as the ID. After that it went rather quiet and I left some time after 10:15 a.m. All in all, not a bad way to end the holiday's birding.

Back at the cottage there was much to do in preparation for our departure which, as always, took far longer than you'd think so it wasn't until after midday that we were on our way. We'd just stopped off at Hayle for our sandwiches and were settling down for the long slog up the A30 when there was a loud bang under the bonnet and a warning message came on the display. After that, the car had little power and no acceleration - it had clearly gone into "lock-down" power limiter mode which it "helpfully" does when something goes wrong. We limped on in this way so that I might assess how easy it would be to get home in this state but it clearly was going to be too much so we pulled in at the services by the St. Agnes turn-off and I called our roadside rescue service. After an hour we were picked up and relayed to a Volvo dealership in Truro. After having described the problem, they reckoned that it might be the turbo charge pipe. Given that the workshop had nothing else to do that afternoon they said that they could take a look to see if they could patch it up. After a lot of waiting around (thank heavens I had my book with me) we were told that they'd manage to sort it out enough to get home. So it was that some time after 5 pm were were finally back on the road and working our way through the Truro rush hour. Fortunately once finally back on the A30 the traffic was fairly light and eventually at around 9:30 in the evening we were back home again. Not exactly the end to our holiday that we were hoping for but at least we were back safely in one piece.

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