Sunday, 2 May 2010

Splash Point-24 April 2010

With SE winds from the off, and 25 birders keeping their eyes on the sea, this was always going to be a fantastic day. And so it proved to be.

The most constant feature of the 2.5 hours dad and I spent at Splash this morning were Terns. They were constantly streaming past, a never ending flow of dainty, persil white flying machines on loose, powerful wings. Commic terns were ab absolute constant, many coming very close. I would estimate we saw upwards of 400 during our stint. Most of the flocks went very close, allowing the short-billed, long-tailed Arctics to be picked out in good numbers, I identified at least 50, probably about 70 or 80 (it was a week ago, my memory has gone a bit fuzzy since then!), and there were almost certainly well over a hundred moving through. Sandwich Terns went through in three-figures too, and among the hundreds of these commoner terns were 8 Little Terns, which they really were among their big cousins, and 4 Black Terns, looking for all the world like huge swifts, plowing accross the sea in such a haphazard way I half-expected them to crash land into the water.

Skuas were a fairly big feature too. One Arctic Skua circled right over our heads before carrrying on east, and two went ENE towards Seaford Head Golf Course, being lost from sight as they vanished over the cliffs. Overall about 12 Arctic and 8 Great Skua went through, but sadly no Poms.

100 Little Gulls flew past, their very ability to actually fly without being blown about in the wind like a butterfly amazing me as much as anything else. Unsurpisingly though, a fairly strong SE wind did push a few inland. 40 went over our heads, including one spectacular flock of 30 birds, all heading towards Arlington Reservoir. No Bonaparte's were among them, though!

A fair few waders also went past. about 60 each of Whimbrela and Bar-tailed Godwit, the latter in tight compact flocks that zipped by so fast you could miss them if you blinked. Thankfully, one mixed flock did put down on the beach briefly, giving good views, but quickly flew off, passing us quite close in. Most bizarre of all, though, was a group of 4 Avocet. First picked up at a ridiculous distance of about 2 kilometres, they were sitting on the sea! After a few minutes, the unsure little group took off, flying past us in quite unsteady fashion (though that is normal for any Avocets). However, their nerves showed when they put down again, about 100 metres east of the groyne! They only stayed for a minute or two before finally finding their wings again, but I got a fairly good look at them, thanks to the birder who kindly let me use his scope.

Other than all that has been mentioned, their were a fair number of wildfowl. About 50 each of Common Scoter and Brent geese, including one Pale-bellied bird, and two Shoveler, two Pintail and 13 Shelduck.

A Brilliant day's seawatching!

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