Thursday, November 25, 2021

Expectations, Hope and the Lottery...


Most birders, certainly coastal observers, spend a lot of time watching weather forecasts and trying to predict how it will impact on the bird life in their area. Often we raise our expectations too highly, more in hope than good judgement, but occasionally a good weather pattern forms that makes us think, surely this will do something. To be specific, that means it will bring rare or scarce birds to us.

The map above is of the wind forecast for this weekend. Today it is swinging around to the north and continuing from that direction until Sunday, peaking with 50+ mph gales on Saturday. 'Damaging' according to Carol Kirkwood. 

The chart shows the source of the 'breeze' to be from the Arctic Ocean, via the Greenland Sea, North East Greenland, Svalbard, Jan Mayen Island, Norwegian Sea and the Faroe Islands bumping into Northumberland nicely in time for Sunday morning.  

A quick Google of this area's birds shows that it is home to many seawatcher's palpitation inducing species like Brunnich's Guillemot, Ross's and Ivory Gulls, King Eider, Snowy Owl etc plus scarce stuff like Little Auks, Glaucous and Iceland Gulls, Grey Phalarope, White billed Diver and Leach's Petrel.  Any one of that lot would make for a good  local patch day.

But realistically what are the chances of pulling it off? Well who can say? It is getting late now and most of those birds rarely leave the pack ice let alone fly down a thousand miles of sea. There will be some Little Auks surely and maybe a white winged gull or phalarope somewhere but it is hope that will have us out in the teeth of a gale with fingers crossed. You need to be in it to win this space...



  1. Even hundreds of miles away on the S coast here, I'm hopeful too! 😄

  2. Lack of stunning northern megaticks suggests that discretion was the better part of valour or you were so busy looking after your property that you didn't get out?

  3. I couldn't help but notice the TWELVE reports of Brunnich's Guillemot on the RBA map today, ranging from Fife down to Whitby but largely centred on your neck of the woods. One bird tracked whilst coasting or multiple birds? Or multiple strings..? Hope you caught a piece of the action, bud!

  4. You certainly do need to be in it to win it Stewart. As Ian Wallace was fond if saying; time out = birds in!
    Cheers, Seumus

  5. Hi all, late with the comments due to you know what...

    Gav - Not unprecedented...

    Derek - As can see I got out, no megas, but very happy with what I did get..

    Seth - Yes unlucky with the BG but most of those reports are dark hooded guillemots, in my opinion you understand...

    Seamus - Yes a good mantra that I try to stick with...