Yesterday, for a brief spell the direction of the wind turned to the NW dragging me, Siren like, down to the sea.
By the time I had finished work and got all of the 1 km down to Cullernose Point the sun was warm, the sky blue and the sea even blue-er if that's a word. Hardly stereotypical seawatching conditions, granted, but a high pressure to the west of Ireland was creating enough of a trough to direct seabirds over Scotland and into the North Sea and a light NN Westerly might just be enough.
We began at 5pm, the stroll down the track to the point was busy with at least 14 Wall Brown butterflies, another sight not so indicative of good pelagic watching conditions, but, no sooner had we plonked ourselves on the rock, a Sooty Shearwater strolled by at a range close enough to see its eye. Worth coming down already, good.
Reading about seawatching recently from the English Channel coast, it seems a very different prospect to our East facing coast. Here Gaving Haig gives it an hour for 1 Gannet. To compare, that is a prospect here maybe on New Years Day, but from June to November they are ever present, never making it into a seawatch list. There are just too many to keep an eye on. The same goes for Fulmars, Kittiwakes, Auks and Terns. A constant back and forward where if you can be bothered you might do a five minute sample count but then realise you might be missing better fare. Last night Gannets numbered about 20 or 30 per minute N with a scattering going S and sitting on the sea or feeding.
Terns and Kittis were blurred objects in the foreground of the scope view. Occasionally a very pale blur forced a quick refocus to confirm an adult Roseate off the rock edge.
We gave it 2.5 hours waiting for Dave Dack's Long tailed Skua to arrive from Newbiggin, 20 miles to the south, but it never did.
In the mean time we had 13 Sooties Shearwaters N, 23 Manx N and a few S, 9 Bonxie N, 1 pale ad Arctic Skua N and 1 S, 1 Tufted Duck N, 1 Red throated Diver S, 3 Roseate Terns, 1 Bar tailed Godwit in with 6 Curlews and 2 Mute Swans N.
As the light changed and even the Gannet tap had been turned down, it wasn't only the sky and sea that was blue, my hands were beginning to match. Autumn is well and truly in...