Sunday, 16 October 2011

MEGA SEAWATCH off the patch

Local patch: I wasn't really convinced of going out earlier in the morning, due to the strong and very cold northeasterly. But then I thought there could be something of interest along the coast, so I decided to check Miramare (for any winter gulls) and to do a bit of seawatching if possible. From 9.45 am onwards I began to see a great movement of small birds on the sea, coming inland, blown by the strong wind. As I took a bit of time to check every single dot, I realised there was a constant influx of passerines (that continued for the whole morning). The commonest were Chaffinches (hundreds), along with several Skylarks, +10 White Wagtails, 5-8 Meadow Pipits, some Water Pipits (heard only), 1-2 Yellow Wagtails (a local patch tick!!), 2-3 Serins and most surprisingly a House Martin (mixed among Skylarks). Later a single Woodpigeon came inland from the sea, followed by a flock of other 15 birds. 3 Buzzards came in too before midday.
In the shallower water just beneath the castle's cliffs a beautiful RED-THROATED DIVER was fishing (see pic above). It took off some minutes later, heading towards Grignano (a year tick!). Nearby a winter plumaged Sandwich Tern was battling against the wind and an immature Mediterranean Gull flew by.
Later I was took a bit by suprise when a female HEN HARRIER arrived from the sea just in front of me and flew literally metres away, over my head!
Shortly after 11.00 am, while scanning the sea, a flock of 40 YELKOUAN SHEARWATERS materialised in my scope! YES! Surprisingly they passed by very rapidly (NW to E), flying completely against the wind. I managed to spot the flock later when they were flying back towards Duino (TS). I then realised there were several flocks, as another one was spotted at the same time in the opposite direction. In total I estimated 100-150 birds. I enjoyed the spectacle of their "shearing flight" (up and down the waves) for the rest of the morning, until I left at 12.15 am. Managed to take some crappy photos, just for documentation (see above).
With the Yellow Wagtail I thus raised the total of my local patch list to 144 species!
Also a compact group of 34 Shags was present in the Grignano bay; here's a part of it: