Friday, November 09, 2007

South Gare, Cleveland - Little Auks & Poms - 9th Nov 2007.

With a time shedule meaning we would have to depart home at 14:00, Councillor John F. Wright and I travelled to South Gare, the closest east coast site to home, in the hope of a few hours decent seawatching. We were not to be disappointed.

Above: Little Auks - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.

Above: Pomarine Skua - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.

Above: Pomarine Skua - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.

Above: Three of five Pomarine Skuas - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.

Above six photos: Two of five Pomarine Skuas - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.
Upon arrival at the Gare at 08:15, we were immediately struck by the mountainous surf, which would not have looked out of place in Hawaii! - It would have been life threatening to have attempted to walk to the end of the gare as the breakers were crashing right over.
An immediate seawatch was in order. Viewing from as far as we dare venture towards the end produced highlights of 1 Bonxie > S, 1ad light morph Arctic Skua 'in' over the Gare onto the Tees, a few Guillemot, Kittiwake, Red-throated Diver and Common Scoter logged by 09:30.
Three Purple Sandpiper on the seaward side of the Gare were flushed by a fem/imm Merlin. Between 09:30-10:15, we decided to look for Snow Buntings on the edge of the dunes. A Purple Sandpiper feeding amongst tidal debris with Turnstone, and a Rock Pipit was the best I could muster, whilst Councillor Wright ventured further, and was eventually rewarded with a fem/imm Snow Bunting. By this time I had ventured back towards the end of the Gare and had recommenced seawatching from 10:25.
At 10:35, a distant Skua was clearly an adult light morph Pomarine complete with spoons. A quick mobile phone call to Councillor Wright who was still on the beach resulted in him miraculously connecting with the Pom, despite his lower viewing position and looking over the huge surf. Two Little Auk then flew north. Things were looking up.
The Councillor hurried back and we continued seawatching until 13:45hrs recording the following:
Little Auk: 242 > N - Largest flock 12.
Razorbill: 1 > N.
Guillemots: double figures 'blogging'.
Pomarine Skua: 10 (4+5 > N, 1 > S). Both flocks were unexpectedly close, and heading north. The first was a flock of 4 comprising of 1ad and 3 considered sub-ads, whilst the second, a flock of 5 was a superb mix of 1ad with full spoons, 2 sub-ads, 1 dark juv and a superb pale phase juvenile). The single south was a distant adult with full spoons.
Gannet: 2 > N, 3 > S.
Great-northern Diver: 1 > S.
Red-throated Diver: 3 > N, 7 > S.
Long-tailed Duck: 1 juvenile > N.
Eider: 7 > N.
Common Scoter: 15 > N.
Red-breasted Merganser: 4 > N.
Grey Plover: 1 > N.
It was very unfortunate having to leave by 14:00 at the latest and an increase in Little Auk passage during the final minutes of the seawatch made our departure even more painful! - Nontheless, another excellent day was had.
Purple Sandpiper - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.