Saturday, July 21, 2007

I luv seawatching, me!

The breezy nor'easter could mean only one thing at this time of year. SEAWATCHING.

Although a little early, late July is traditionally the start of the season when Northumberland birders point their scopes seaward hoping for a good movement of ocean wanderers and the chance that something special comes within sight of land.

For those who are wondering what I'm on about, seawatching is not the scanning of the sea for divers and ducks etc. Its watching for the birds either migrating south over the sea or, more usually, reorientating back north after being displaced by an unusual weather pattern. For us up here we want good fresh winds from anywhere between north west and north east, preferably coming off a fast moving low pressure in the north atlantic, though often the light north breeze from a large high pressure system will result in large numbers of birds moving.

Seawatching is either loved or hated by birders. Its not something to dabble at. You can tell the people who are not used to it as they turn up at a headland, Newbiggin maybe, set up their scopes and tripods and STAND, peering into the wind. They won't be there long thats a fact. The winds that make the best conditions can be invariably cold, even in late summer, and after and hour or so can chill you to the bone. Remember, you are waiting for birds to come to you too. This means, time spent equals birds seen. Ten minutes standing in tee shirt and shorts will not get the good birds. Get kitted out like its winter. Find a sheltered spot and sit, hunkered down out of the wind, for a good period of time in order to get the best from it. On quiet days an hour will do, but on the best days eight hours sitting still counting and getting eye strain is not uncommon.

Me, I'm in the love it camp. From now until November any good weather ( for us that is, not for most people) will see me huddled over a cold telescope, folded into my deckchair until the evening light fades, then climbing back into the car shivering from the inside out. Lets hope that this year turns up the goods...Boulmer desperately needs Sabines Gull, Leaches Petrel, Great Shearwater etc etc.


Blyth Birder said...

Have you discovered BB?

Not wanting to tempt fate but its looking good for early next long as the forecasters have got it right of course?

Stewart said...

MagicSeaweed! New to me I'll check it out..Up here in Boulmer I have access to a very site specific forecast from the met office, thanks to the RAF! They have their own weather station, see