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Friday, 26 September 2014

Feas - Seawatching

Well like many I got caught up in the quest for Feas Petrel  first sighted past Flamborough  early morn of the 21st , I have never seawatched from there but I presume your looking down on everything and it has been a remarkable site for some fantastic movement . well at the time I did not give it much thought though  it was speculated that it could track North  at least somewhat , Hartlepool was mentioned  as the best hope , if it passes there we had a good chance well no word was put out , but for some reason there was a buzz that it would be worthwhile getting to the coast at a suitable point to try your luck , suitable point in this case was  more than just a look at the sea it would help if information was forthcomming of the birds progress , it would help if there where other experienced watchers . So MHp and I first decided to forego  the charms of Seaton Sluice and head to Newbiggin knowing there would be many observers set up ready ,but we also weighed up the possibility of going to St Mary's , I have seawatched from here more times than Newbiggin  and thought it would be easier to get onto the hoped for bird , so that's where we ended up by the Ladies toilet block only to find not a sole there , the tide was out and we wondered if everyone was on the island , having only seen one Sooty we packed up and headed for the Island , mild panic was just starting to creep in , why I don't know  but I did suddenly realize I wanted to see this bird , I mean I really did want to see this  bird I have put in many hours staring at the sea  and hoped this would be some sort of payback .
Well arriving at the hide you could see the shutters open I think it was a young lad "Dan " that let us in (thanks for that) he was on his own , what's going on I at least thought there would be a few people set up , perhaps it was the rising tide that put them off . Set up and viewing it takes a while to get your eye in , this happens at any site you go too there all different, some are high and your looking at more sea , some are low and you have swell or chop that even Gannets can disappear in ,   a few Sooty where evident ,I have lost the notes from the day so cant remember any totals for Sooty/ Manx or anything else . Well more observers joined us just enough  to fill the space and with the tide over the causeway we where committed , I was enjoying what was on offer but deep down thought we are not going to see this surely at some stage the bird is going to head out to sea  on a huge loop and be lost , a report of a  sighting from Cowbar  ?  then much  later Ryhope  the tension was starting to mount and we still had a long wait , next report was Whitburn which has a very good following of seawatchers  and I knew there would be plenty of observers there , the bird was reported as lingering in with Kittiwakes  great for those watching it , panic for us waiting along the coast , finally another report the bird had now moved North and out of sight . Now for the next hurdle the "Whitburn Triangle " many birds seen tracking north do not get picked up  further north  I think the run off from the Tyne pushes them further out beyond view from the coast.
Finally a report from Tynemouth it's still on the way . the game was now on  but it was going to be fairly short game you would have to get onto it quickly or it would soon pass and become only  history .
And then the clincher a call from observers at the loos it was just south of the Yellow Buoy , you could here the elated shouts in the background , I hurriedly moved to  scan and there as it sheared up I saw my first Feas  everyone got onto it with ease suddenly the silence ended   and you could feel the tension lift  as the bird seemed to sheer slowly up and down as it crossed our view point , I had expected it to be flying lower more like the passing Manx , meaning it  could have got hidden from view in the swell ,  I resisted the temptation to try and get a shot , I will leave that to the next one . What a fantastic bird , by far the best bird sighting I have seen in Northumberland .

Done a couple of  sessions this week
The 23rd saw about 350 Barnacle South  early eve
24th    76 Little Gull ,2 L T skua and a Juv Sabines from St Mary's  then continued from the Sluice
24th     174 little Gulls (one group of 52)  and the juv Sabines
spent an hour or two at Gosforth Park  and had a Bittern & 60 returned to the Sluice where Little Gull passage had ended for the day with only 3 picked up heading North

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