Wednesday, September 06, 2023


 This morning before leaving work to go into the office a local WhatsApp message popped up - 

Brown Booby, North, Long Nab, Scarborough.

This is a message that causes a basic life pause, just for a second while the info is mentally processed.

Then its reported very close in past Cowbar in Cleveland.

Clearly this is the bird that has spent a couple of days off Filey, so, what chance that it is actually on the move and not just circling around in the sea haa looking for a nice feeding frenzy to join in with?

Just in case, you understand, not that the chance would arise, and yes I am remaining cool, it might be worth checking timescales.

Long Nab to Cowbar took 1 hr 15 mins for 36 miles.

Cowbar to Newbiggin in Northumberland, only 2 miles from my office is 75 miles. By counting fingers and toes I can deduce from this that the tropical Sula could be due in around 11.30am.  

No, I'm still not too bothered, chances are it will be back in Filey before I get in to work.

Fast forward and I am in the office at 10am and logged on.

A message banner pops up on my phone. Brown Booby past Hartlepool Headland, very close in...

Shit is getting real, this could be on the cards.

A humorous and hasty conversation with colleagues and manager about 'weh hey' Brown Boobies ( insert emoji) and I cant hold on much longer, I'm off to Newbiggin arriving at 10.50am.

Already there are 20 people eagerly concentrating and grilling the rolling calm waves into the mist. The good thing about these type of twitches is that we can meet up with good friends we don't see so often, so its always going to be a win. 

The tension is palpable. Each juv Gannet gets a sigh as it passes. The concentration is broken briefly when a Black Guillemot flies through my scope and on to several peoples county and year lists.

'Cullercoats Brown Booby North towards Seaton Sluice'.

That is almost in sight! Come on...

After a few minutes there begins to be some coughing and fidgeting in the now 35 strong crowd. The rumour mill is grinding. Word has it, that it has not been seen at Whitburn a seawatching mecca. But there are close in immature Gannets. Then one observer says that the sighting at Hartlepool was believed by some ( always a good one) to be a Gannet too.

The observers at Cullercoats chip in that it might not have been a Booby?

It turns out there are NO confirmed sightings North of Cleveland.

Ah well its been a pleasant two hours and I am back in the office at 12.45.

Things should have ended there, but no, life is never that easy, is it.

Gary Woodburn calls. After all the earlier confusion, conspiracy and string, the real deal has just gone past Whitburn! Could you believe it. Right, one last ditch attempt sees me back at Newbiggin for 1pm but I need to be back by 2pm.

I needn't have worried, as I got out of the car Gary messaged to say 'Stand Down, the Whitburn sighting is erroneous too!'

Whats going on here. Looks like another young Gannet is responsible.

While standing discussing this with those who about turned back to the point, we had a close in very dark Balearic Shearwater, a Bonxie and a few Manx and Red throated Divers.

Balearic Shearwater courtesy of Paul Weddle.

30 minutes passes, time to call it a day. While there had been several Boobies this morning there was no Brown Booby for Stew.

As we left, a photo came through of the cracking adult Sula leucogaster now loitering off South Gare. Looks like it has never passed Cleveland after all...


1 comment:

  1. Nice write up Stewart - frustrating you missed the BB which is obviously intent on feasting on a small child's chips at Redcar, but I like the jeopardy. I guess the question is - is this the same brown booby seen off the Lizard in Cornwall, or are there a flotilla of BB's off our coastline). There's always tomorrow.