Friday, 7 August 2015

Scilly Pelagics - Day 1 - 6th August 2015

As I've brought my laptop with me and I'm sure to take far too many photos, I thought I'd do daily blog posts during my trip to the Scillies. Yesterday I drove from Exeter first thing to get the Scillionian from Penzance, whilst stopping at Hayle on the way to check for the Ring-billed Gull.
It didn't disappoint as it was one of the closest birds just stood on the river mud going under the B3301. 
Until this year, I'd never seen a Ring-billed Gull in the UK...well except for two hybrids (does that make a whole one?) and then now I've seen three just this year and two 1st summers in four days!
The Scillonian was lovely a choppy which made me hopeful for something tasty like a Fea's/Zino's or even something simple like a Balearic or a nice cetacean (probably not in those conditions). With the exception of a brief possible Great Shearwater, it was mainly dominated by Manxies which seemed to be moving west almost constantly.

I had a nice relaxed afternoon and revised my Storm-petrels from the Bob Flood and Ash Fisher guide prior to the evening's pelagic 
It was an impromptu pelagic really as I'd booked onto the following three days, so it was a bonus that this was going ahead. It seemed to take an age before we found some birds, but we spotted a group of feeding gannets and Common Dolphins and a single Cory's Shearwater was the first tubenose we saw! A rare bird so far this year
Next up were two Sooty Shearwater which were fantastic and lingered for a short while.
I've previously only seen two and this was from a land seawatch and the views were pretty poor.
The close quarters viewing from the boat and photographic opportunities almost made this seem like a lifer! I've now photographed all 11 tubenoses I've seen 
The two made a final flypast as they powered south
This meant attention was then onto the Dolphins.
There must've been 150+ surrounding the boat giving great views, but were a nightmare to photograph. Joe's dog LOVES dolphins and seems to be able to sense when they're around and cries frantically whilst they're around. It's amazing to watch the connection between her and the dolphins. 
With a couple of distant Manxies being the third tubenose, a few Fulmar came in and spent the rest of the pelagic around the boat being the fourth.
I'd suggest there were about 75 Storm-petrel around the boat, but generally stayed quite distant. Five tubenoses isn't bad!
There were several Bonxies that came through occasionally mobbing gulls for titbits.
It went a lot quieter after the dolphins had moved on and we settled in for the rest of the pelagic. The Fulmar began to perform allowing great photographic opportunities. 

I may have gone a little overboard (not literally despite being on a boat!), but I've always loved Fulmar and it was a close encounter I couldn't really ignore.
There was a strange atmosphere around the boat as those we were all ready for something good to happen. I said to Elliot Mudd 'I've got a feeling something is about to happen' and literally five seconds later, a call of 'Cory's!' was shouted and we all got distant views of our second lazy shearwater of the pelagic. 
As the sun started to set, the stormies continued and I got a few more photos of Fulmar before the light was all but gone. 
A really lovely start to my holiday...We'll see what the next one (tonight) brings!


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