Right, today is the day for Great Shearwaters. There had been loads right down as far as Norfolk and an unprecedented 12 N at Newbiggin this afternoon. So I was bound to see a single one past old Boulmer tonight.
WRONG! Like gardeners and fishermen, Birders are renowned for having reasons (making excuses) why something doesn't happen. Tonight it was heat haze over the sea. I know, thats nearly as bad as leaves on the line, but I kid you not after about half a mile Gannets looked like Fruit Bats and Sooties became shivering apparitions, ghostly thumb prints drifting north. The only reasonable birds were those within the pot flags or those so blatantly identifiable even a fairground mirror couldn't disguise them.
JWR, TAC and MC, myself and a holday maker from Weymouth who had dashed from Alnwick Garden to get a Great Shearwater before he had his tea (!) gave it two and a half hours.
We had -
Arctic Skua 11
Bonxie 3 N
Long tailed Skua 1 ad and 1 juv N.
Manx Shearwater 22 N
Sooty Shearwater 5 N
Common Scoter 27 N
Red throated Diver 5 N
Puffin 3 N
Little Gull 3 N
Teal 5 N
The Long tailed Skuas came by together quite high up. The juv was a dark bird. They slowly flapped North, then began soaring over Longhoughton Steel and looked like gulls flycatching. The long rear end, generally sooty appearance with a cream breast and black cap could be noted. There were no pale wing flashes. The adult stopped and stalled in flight before resuming its course. Not classic views but good enough for a correct id.
A welcome patch year tick and some compensation for dipping out on the Great Shears.
133. Long tailed Skua.