Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Porthcawl Seawatch, 20 May

News of a large European storm-petrel movement in the south west, along with several other species moving past Porthcawl with favourable winds, seemed a good opportunity to catch up a few of the more tricky species to get. With this in mind, I settled into the shelter on the seafront in Porthcawl at 5:30am. The first half an hour was quiet, with just a few gulls out at sea. The first bird of note however, was a great northern diver just off-shore. I was then joined by Peter Lansdown just as the rain came in. After a few more minutes, I picked up the first storm-petrel. Tiny birds, that would easily be missed scanning with the binoculars. Then another and another. It was actually difficult to tell how many were moving through, as they were difficult to follow for any length of time battling against the wind and waves. I estimated that I saw at least 12 birds in total during the session. An immature gannet appeared and then the first Manx shearwater at around 6:45am. As soon as these birds appeared things picked-up and we got a steady stream of birds, mostly Manxies in parties of 5-30 in size all moving west. Three adult gannets moved through and full summer plumage great northern diver. Next were two blue-phase fulmars. Way out, I thought there may have been a small party of kittiwakes and terns but it was impossible to be sure. Another bird caught my eye for a few seconds. Again way out, but I was sure it was a skua of some sort. I concluded the morning at around 8:00am as Dean Bolt took up station.

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