Monday, September 14, 2009

Pelagic 2009

Our first branch pelagic yesterday (Sunday 13 September 09) made up in quality for what it lacked in quantity! Setting out at 2:30pm from Port Oriel at Clogherhead we immediately ran into several small rafts of manx shearwaters and guillemots. A few minutes later we crossed a few fulmars. The weather was fine with a gentle north-easterly breeze and a Beauford 3 sea (a few white tops on the waves).
We cruised straight out 23 km in an easterly direction and started chumming. This immediately attracted several gulls (kittiwakes, herring gulls, great black backed gulls and a few common gulls) and terns (a few common and one sandwich), which in turn attracted our first good bird, a bonzie (great skua). Observing that most of the manxies were to the north we headed towards Carlingford Louth for 10 or so kilometers until Eric picked out a distant great shearwater flying with a few manxies. Soon after that another bonxie arrived (possibly the same one), this time flying over the boat.

A few minutes later the star of the show made his appearance, a pomarine skua, who then sat on the water allowing the boat to approach to within 20 metres. Soon after that an arctic skua appeared in the distance, completing our quotient of skuas. We cruised home into a beautiful sunset, arriving after 7pm.

Thanks to Eric for spotting the birds and Oliver, our boatman, for bringing us out and home safely.

Final tally:

1000+ manx shearwaters
1000+ guillemots (many juveniles/1W)
50 gannets
7 razorbills (2 juvs)
500+ kittiwakes
3 fulmars
2 great skuas
1 pomarine skua
1 arctic skua
100+ herring gulls and assorted black-headed and great black backed gulls
6 common terns
1 sandwich tern
1 shag
12 cormorants

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