Saturday, 2 May 2015

Black Guillemot, Cuckoo and Phyllosc sp.

Phyllosc sp.
Today has been a good day! In fact it has been the best day this year by some distance. It started with a sea-watch at 0545, and at 0600 a small black auk whizzed in to view. It was distant and the light was very poor but it was undeniably jet black and its wings were whizzing around at a million miles an hour. It was flying east, but as it passed Orcombe Point it looped around and started to take a line back towards the Warren. I kept my eye on it but couldn't really get any further detail (see field notes) but it was clearly a black guillemot in summer plumage. I lost it as it zoomed towards Langstone Rock. Hopefully it's still in the Bay somewhere.
Also off there, over a 2 hour period, were 5 great northern diver, 1 red-throated diver, c30+ sandwich tern, 2+ common scoter, 1 common gull, 4+ black-headed gull, 4+ whimbrel, 1 manx shearwater, 3 fulmar, 1 curlew and 4+ auk sp with several kittiwakes and gannets lingering offshore.
The only 'new' migrant I could find on a blown out Orcombe Point was a phyllosc sp that was incredibly dull, skulky and reminiscent of a dusky warbler! It is perhaps a northern willow warbler but to be honest, despite it appearing long-winged I'm not wholly convinced it isn't just an odd chiffie! Tertial: primary ratio looks less convincing now.
Mid-morning my son, Joel, played his first football match, on the Imperial Rugby ground, for his new team, against a Welsh touring side. He managed to score a hat-trick, which was almost overshadowed by the cuckoo that flew over at 1045! The local starling flock exploded in to the air in panic, and I looked around fully expecting to see a sparrowhawk. My initial reaction, when I clocked the cause of all the commotion, was kestrel but the more laboured and erratic flight action and longer tail gave the game away. To put this sighting in to context, I have only ever seen one cuckoo in Exmouth, and that was on Orcombe Point way back some time in the nineties I think! I'll have to look it up.
A quick squiz off the Imperial late afternoon produced c20+ whimbrel, 3 bar-tailed godwit and 9 common gull.

Whimbrel - two of c20+ off Mudbank late afternoon.

Field sketch of Black Guillemot off Orcombe Point.

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