This blog is about all forms of wildlife I record around North Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes in particular. My main interests for 2012 will be looking for anything I've not seen before.

Monday, September 20

RSPB Skua and Shearwater Cruise Sunday - Pictures added

Nik, John C and I left MK about 0520 to get to Bridlington Harbour, East Yorkshire for 0900. We were due to board the Yorkshire Belle for a 3 hour plus Skua and Shearwater Cruise with other members of the North Bucks local group.
With shortest route in the sat nav we seemed to be travelling most of the time in the middle of no where or I think it's called Lincolnshire, passing villages like Spital-in-the-street and Snitterby. We finally arrived in Bridlington at 0830, just enough time to get a egg butty and pull the waterproofs on. This trip was going to be wet.
We then spent the next 3 and a bit hours bobbing about in the north sea off Flamborough Head.
The highlights - 6 + good views of Harbour Porpoise, 2 good views of Atlantic Grey Seal. Alas these were the only mammals spotted at sea.
Bird highlights - 3 + Sooty Shearwaters (or the same one!), 2 Great Skua's, 1 brief Pale phase Arctic Skua, 10-15 Red-throated Divers (with 5 in a flock a highlight), 10 + Guillemot's and Razorbills and a few Shags. The odd Kittiwake and Sandwich Tern rounded it off but on the whole passage was quiet and the weather all wrong, well it was wet!!
I've very kindly been sent these photo's from Steve Smith who was on the cruise. From the top Great Skua, Sooty Shearwater, Gannet with Greater Blackbacked Gull. Many thanks Steve.

We left Bridlington around 1330, with nothing posted on birdguides, what a surprise we're away for the day and the winds were against us, I can't remember ever birding when a 'falls' taking place!
So Plan B was engaged (a little eccentric I know but a ticks a tick and a lifers a lifer).
Nik and I headed to the Peak District and Torside Reservoir to look for Mountain Hare. So after our 262nd mile of the day we finally arrived at 1549. As we entered the National Park (a first for me) a Red Grouse flew high above the car from one side of the road to the other - a good start - but we wanted better). By 1630 we'd finally found the car park at Torside and after a 5 minute scan of the slopes above us I finally picked out a Mountain Hare - my 42nd mammal tick of the year and obviously a lifer for me. Not the best views and very distant, plus it was grey, overcast and windy - proper moors weather - but well chuffed with the find!
We then continued onto through 'Snake Pass' and on towards Stanage Edge to look for Red Grouse. After a few minutes near one of the car parks we both had amazing views of both males and female Red Grouse, plus birds in flight and calling - all the ticks ;)
With both target species ticked and in the bag and nightfall approaching we started heading for the nearest Camra pub and some locally brewed ales (I even managed a cider called 'Moonshine' Cider in celebration). A great day and some amazing scenery in the Peak District. I'll try and add some photo's but on first inspection there pretty grey and poor quality. Thanks to Nik for helping out with the wheels and allowing my hairbrain scheme to drive us miles to see one hare!

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