Wednesday 9th August 2017

Wednesday 9th August 2017

Pendeen seawatch (06:00 – 09:00):  2 Sooty Shearwater, 3 Balearic Shearwater, 12 Common Scoter, 5 Whimbrel, 30 Kittiwake, 1 Sandwich Tern, 1 Swift. (D Flumm) 07:00 – 12:00: Highlights 1 Grey Phalarope, 1 Arctic Skua, 3 Sooty Shearwater, 2 Balearic Shearwater, 1 Storm Petrel and several hundred Manx. (S Rogers) 1 Wilson’s Petrel reported past at 11:48.12:50 and 13:50: 1 Cory’s Shearwater and 1 Balearic Shearwater. (MJ Spicer)

Walmsley Sanctuary: 3 Glossy Ibis including 1 Spanish ringed bird (hence possibly different birds to the earlier 14?), 5 Cattle Egret incl a juv. 38 Dunlin, 15 Black-tailed Godwit, Shoveler and Teal at this am. (P Roseveare) At Dusk: 8 Glossy Ibis, 5 Cattle Egret incl a juv and 95+ Dunlin. (A Langdon)

Godrevy: 1 Balearic Shearwater at 08:40.  (R Veal)

Hayle Estuary RSPB, Lelant Saltings: 2 Greenshank, 3 Dunlin, and 3 Shelduck (1 ad + 2  juv). (R Butts, T Pinfield) Ryan’s Field: 31+ Mediterranean Gull, 3 Black-tailed Godwit and 1 Bar-tailed Godwit. (R Butts,T Pinfield)

Dobwalls: 50+ Swift over village between 13.00-13.05. (J Duffy)

Late News: ‘Pterodroma sp’ off Lamorna 8/8/2017
I was on board the Mermaid ll, guiding the scheduled Minack Theatre trip at midday, already heading back inshore after having failed to find any dolphins, or anything more than reasonable numbers of Manx Shearwaters foraging about a mile offshore. These birds are part of an extended flock (presumably still containing the large shearwaters still being recorded from Porthgwarra) ranging even further offshore and at least as far west as Wolf Rock. The wind was northerly and I was scanning the ever more distant line of Manx when I saw what I immediately thought was a pterodroma shearing almost twice as high and fast as the shearwaters around it. I could only see white under-parts and glimpses of dark upper-parts through my bins so I reached for my camera. The bird was so far off I had to use a distant boat to track it through the view finder, and the bird “switch-backed ” twice causing me to keep losing it, but I did manage to get 8-9 shots of the bird as it sheared over the horizon.
 Given the good light, clear conditions and having my converter on the camera giving me 420mm mag I was hopeful these would be enough to at least “nail it” as a Fea’s type but I had forgotten to set the camera back up to it’s highest resolution/ largest jpegs, having reduced this to save card space when photographing the seals on St Clement’s Island! As a result the pictures are the pixelated mess attached, but they were enough to show that the bird has largely white underwings with clear black margins, possibly a black ulnar-bar, and an apparently diffuse dark hood or head. The underwing alone should rule out any Fea’s type, and given the dark head this strongly indicates Bermuda Petrel Pterodroma cahow! However – as can be seen – the pictures are awful, and cannot safely rule-out Black-capped P. hasitata, or a “white-winged” Zino’s P. madeira or even confirm it as a pterodroma at all! Given what I saw and the longer “rear” of the bird I am happy it was a gadfly, and I’d even go as far as saying  it looked too small for how I’d imagine hasitata to look, and more confidently that it was too bulky for madeira ( having seen 5 Fea’s in Cornwall), but the photo.s just aren’t good enough, and I /we can only hope it is still happily feeding offshore with our shearwater frenzy- bring on the south-westerlies!
                                                                                                                            Martin Elliott
Martin’s original (left, heavily cropped) and post-processing (right)
Pterodroma petrel species, Martin Elliot. (processed images)


Slideshow, slightly larger version of processed images (click to pause) –

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Three of the original images (cropped only), plus one of the originals below. As it can be seen, not too many pixels to work with!

djc, tdm