Saturday 24 October 2020

Berry Head Seawatch - Take 2

Saturday 24th October was another day with strong winds and heavy rain forecasted and so I decided to revisit Berry Head for another sea watch. I was knackered after finishing 2 busy night shifts on the Friday morning and so the 5:30 alarm call on the Saturday morning was not very welcome but I dragged myself out of bed and arrived at the quarry floor at Berry Head at just before 9:00 am. As forecasted it was very windy with spells of heavy rain but I joined the other seawatchers present full of expectation and I wasn't disappointed.

On arriving at the quarry floor Plymouth birder Pete was present as well as Dave and Mark who were there on my Tuesday visit and they immediately got me onto a Balearic Shearwater flying south, my only one of the watch this time. 

Brixham Trawler

Conditions were more challenging than on my previous visit with visibility poor at times and it was wet and quite cold but I managed to stay watching for just over 5 hours before packing up and heading back to Plymouth. 

Gannets and Kittiwakes were obvious offshore with Auks moving around and settled on the sea, both Razorbill and Guillemots identified this time. A few Fulmar were also picked up along with a single Manx Shearwater but it was more unusual fare that created the most interest 

A Great Northern Diver and a Red-throated Diver were seen flying by, the Great Northern south and the Red-throated into Torbay with another unidentified Diver flying north. 2 female Common Scoter were seen flying south along with 2 single Puffins, my first for mainland Devon and both picked up by Pete.

Skuas were noted offshore with some nice views of Arctic Skuas quite close to shore at times and Great Skuas further out. A Great Skua was watched chasing a Kittiwake, its larger size being very noticeable while another Great Skua was watched along with an Arctic Skua chasing a Kittiwake and again its larger size was very apparent. I had hoped to see a Pomarine Skua but was out of luck although one was reported.

A Merlin was a surprise as it flew along the cliff face and out of sight around the headland and later it reappeared, landing briefly on the cliff face above us before flying off again. Shortly after it was seen again flying out to sea before returning back to shore and disappearing into the quarry. A Black Redstart was also briefly seen on the footpath before flying into the bushes but I couldn't refind it.

I had some nice views of Harbour Porpoise close to shore with brief and distant views of Common Dolphins too but the highlight was a large Tuna leaping out of the water and creating quite a splash. 

Rock Pipit, Oystercatcher, Shag, Herring Gull, Black-headed Gull and Great Black-backed Gull were also seen along with a Red Admiral flitting by in a brief rainless spell.

Another very enjoyable sea watching day out with some experienced company to point out birds, I'm looking forward to my next time already. 

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