Saturday, 3 October 2009

The 'perfect depression' as expections exceeded

Heysham Obs
With a very narrow margin as regards the correct wind direction, 'perfect' depression tracks producing decent autumnal seawatches are quite a rare event in the Bay. Add a decent tide time & height (not too 'splashy'), stronger overnight winds than forecast, plus a well-timed high tide squall and the result was far better than anticipated. As seems to be usual on a Saturday, no local observers, but Mike Watson and Anne & Peter stayed for the duration. Also, as anticipated, no joy for JBP observers in a 'wind shadow', although at least one Leach's Petrel reached Teal Bay. The knock-on from this (i.e. nothing right in the inner bay) was that the Leach's Petrel movement finished quite early in the dropping tide cycle with nothing after 1500hrs. High tide was 1034hrs, therefore, as is not atypical with Leach's Petrel, the vast majority of the observed movement out of the bay (as opposed to being swept in at longer range) was on the dropping tide.

North harbour wall & area 0915-1500hrs
Leach's Petrel as follows (timing past the yellow buoys), some as close as 70 metres: 0915, 1058, 1115, 1152, 1209, 1213 (2), 1215 (2), 1216, 1221, 1225, 1234, 1237, 1242, 1244 (2), 1247, 1253, 1256, 1300 (2), 1302, 1307, 1309, 1310, 1312, 1317 (2), 1318, 1320, 1324, 1327, 1335, 1351, 1354, 1357, 1402, 1444, 1456. These were definitely unduplicated birds, all heading out of the bay, with no backtracking & all birds clearly visible for lengthy periods. A majority were just inside the line of the yellow buoys but some were quite close & photos will be posted later if sharp. Second-hand report of one about 1830hrs on the early stages of the incoming tide
Little Gull - 3 x juv, one ad out
Kittiwake - 2 juv out, 2 behind IOM ferry
Med Gull - 2 x ad & 1 x 1CY along the seawall at various times
Bonxie (Great Skua) - one 'in' at 1415hrs
Arctic Skua - described as dark morph 'out' at about 1110hrs with another mid afternoon (seen by other observers)
Fulmar - 2 out
Guillemot - one on sea
Arctic Tern - juv on outfalls
Red-throated Diver - one on sea
Pintail - 3+1 out
Shearwater spp - extremely distant bird - probably the Manx seen just previously off Morecambe
Good numbers of common wader species on the move

Arctic Skua JBP, 3 Barnacle Geese JBP, juv Little Gull & Manx Shearwater & Leach's Petrel off north Morecambe. Two Great White Egret left the island mere roost at Leighton at 0720 & 'flew SW'. No further news.