Saturday, 27 October 2012

CORY'S SHEARWATERS, KITTIWAKES & YELKOUANS off the patch!!

 
WHAT A DAY! I still can't believe what I've seen this morning in my beloved patch. It was all mega stuff. At 10.00 am, looking at the stormy sea, I thought it might be a good idea to go down to Miramare and see what I can find. There was an unusually strong south-east wind...
So at 10.19 I was in position at Miramare and literally the first birds I saw when pointed the scope out at sea were +50 Yelkouan Shearwaters flying east. Excellent, I thought!
A minute later (10.20) I was about to have a heart attack when two odd looking shearwaters materialized in my scope. Not just odd, but also BIG! More or less like the nearby Yellow-legged Gulls. I immediately realized what they were: bloody CORY'S SHEARWATERS! Yes, Cory's in the Gulf of Trieste! Rare stuff up here! The exciting thing is also that I've never seen a Cory's Shearwater before! There's anything better that a lifer in your local patch?
Minutes later I found about 3 or 4 other birds gliding over the waves in their typical fashion - stiff, slightly back-angled wings and virtually no wingbeats. The colour of the back was clearly light brown and grey and sometimes a hint of whitish rump was also visible. The max number were 5 birds flying together, but presumably there were more. The lone individuals were frequently chased and harassed by Yellow-legged Gulls.
After releasing the news to other friends, I carried on scoping and immediately got another surprise: 1st winter KITTIWAKE flying east!! A really scarce bird in the Gulf of Trieste and of course another patch tick! Wow!
Then a LESSER BLACK-BACKED GULL followed, which represented a first for the season, as well as a very good bird for the area.
At about 11.00 am I was finally joined by other birders and together we enjoyed some more views of these rare birds. Cory's Shearwaters were on show for the rest of the morning (until 12.30), usually flying up over the horizon, sometimes coming closer and giving better views. The flight jizz was always distinctive.
Yelkouan Shearwaters followed with flocks of about 50 to 100 birds (estimate 170 in total), usually flying east, not too far from the coast. Thus they allowed very good views. The above pics were taken when a smaller flock flew towards Trieste (see the town of Piran in the background). A lonely bird was seen flying very close to shore a few times and on these occasions it was promptly mobbed by some aggressive Yellow-legged Gulls. 
Kittiwakes also followed for the rest of the morning with at least 8-9 birds seen in total - all were first winters. Three birds in particular passed especially close to the shore, allowing excellent views.
Other birds at sea included 1 Sandwich Tern, +10 Med Gulls and the usual Black-headed Gulls.
The totals so far:
Cory's Shearwater 5-10
Kittiwake +8 (1st w)
Yelkouan Shearwater +170
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Med Gull +10
Sandwich Tern 1

All in all one of the best birding days in the local patch!