Bird­ing boat trip

Bird Watching (UK) - - Bird The World -

Re­sid­ing in ‘land-locked’ west Suf­folk, I do crave the coast and in­deed the sea. While the Suf­folk coast does not match Porthg­wara in sea­watch­ing terms it al­lows for a mod­est pas­sage which serves to tan­ta­lise more than de­liver. As a re­sult, I have a healthy ob­ses­sion with seabirds, cetaceans and all the ocean’s bounty. That is not to say I have any depth of knowl­edge, I just love the sea and all therein. Given Scilly’s po­si­tion – nearly 30 miles into the At­lantic – tak­ing a pelagic was high on my wish-list for the trip. To do so on the Sap­phire, and in the com­pany of Bob Flood and Joe Pen­der, was a longestab­lished dream. Across our pelagic the weather was lovely. Leav­ing St Mary’s Quay we passed Shags on the rocks, with Sand­wich Terns over­head, be­fore skirt­ing St Agnes and plough­ing out to sea. We made a bee­line for a con­gre­ga­tion of hun­dreds of feed­ing Gan­nets. The Gan­nets were not alone, how­ever. As we ap­proached, in­ter­spersed across the line of plung­ing birds were other breaks, white crests of move­ment across the hori­zon. Lift­ing my binoc­u­lars, I re­alised the cause; dol­phins. I have seen dol­phins be­fore but never in such prox­im­ity or in such num­bers. The mem­ory is one of hy­per-re­al­ity and al­most dis­be­lief, de­spite hav­ing lived it! As far as wildlife spec­ta­cles go, I can think of lit­tle St Mary’s, home to 1,800 peo­ple, is the largest and most pop­u­lous of the Isles UNITED KING­DOM that would match the ex­pe­ri­ence of watch­ing such in­spir­ing crea­tures. To be af­forded the com­pany of dol­phins, back-dropped by Scilly and out in the At­lantic, is un­doubt­edly one of my most trea­sured mem­o­ries. While the dol­phins de­servedly took cen­tre stage, there was a solid avian sup­port­ing cast, too. Thou­sands of Gan­nets of var­i­ous ages, a Great Skua crossed our wake, a Sooty Shearwater among the massed Gan­nets, and at least five Grey Phalaropes were en­coun­tered. At this stage, I have to draw at­ten­tion to the prow­ess of both Joe Pen­der and Bob Flood. Joe called Grey Phalarope with no op­tics and at suf­fi­cient dis­tance that I was not even aware of its pres­ence. Some mo­ments later, sure enough a Grey Phalarope whizzed into view, the first of sev­eral views of this species and a re­minder of how del­i­cate this bird is – es­pe­cially in the con­text of the rolling waves of the At­lantic! Later in the trip, Bob an­nounced a Sooty Shearwater was in among the Gan­nets. Again, this was at some dis­tance; only by train­ing my binoc­u­lars on the feed­ing flock and wait­ing pa­tiently did I even­tu­ally catch up and see the stiff-winged glide of the Shearwater amongst the con­gre­ga­tion. It was su­per in­spir­ing to be in the com­pany of in­di­vid­u­als so

Joepen­der Spot­ted Fly­catcher Ju­ve­nile Gan­net HOME SWEET HOME

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