Sunday, 15 September 2013

Well, its been quite a day. A gale-force South-westerly which blew up overnight turned to the North-west at midday: a perfect recipe for seabird passage if there ever was one. However, throughout much of the day there was very little movement of any sort, until late afternoon.

At about 1630, Sooty Shearwaters began passing the island, and by 1730 a total of seven had passed with a steady trickle of Manx Shearwaters and Gannets. At roughly 1750, Steve Stansfield picked up a petrel off the North End of the island- in the ensuing seconds, he realised it was no ordinary petrel: it's sporradic and stiff-winged flight, combined with external features gave away its true identity: IT WAS A FEA'S PETREL!! The second ever to be recorded on Bardsey.
The bird continued its hectic flight path close in along the West Side, and observers present (myself not included) struggled to connect with the bird as it worked further and further along the coast. The petrel was close enough for some important features to be observed, but unfortunately, only a couple of minutes after it was first discovered, it disappeared into the glare of the sun.
The elation of those observers lucky enough to see the bird, and the utter frustration of those who missed it, fuelled the seawatching to continue for a further 50 minutes. Unfortunately for the latter, the bird never showed itself again, leaving people in an adrenaline-filled daze after such a thrilling half-hour.

It was not all good news this afternoon 'though: mid afternoon, an auk was picked up flying South past the west side. However, within seconds, it was clear that it was no auk! It was a shearwater! But the constant flapping wing-beats, absence of any shearing, prominent white face and small , stubby wings prompted the question: is it a Little Shearwater? It continued along the west side, eventually disappearing just South of Carreg Yr Honwy. More notes on jizz and plumage backed up the initial thought: that it couldn't be anything else! Without any images or detailed sketches, it is unlikely the record will get anywhere, and so will probably have to go down with similar records from the last three years.

As well as all the excitement from the above, good totals of other seabirds amounted to: a Long-tailed Skua, 13 Great Skuas, four Arctic Skuas, three Pomarine Skuas, 23 Sooty Shearwaters, a Mediterreanean Gull and two Red-throated Divers.

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