Saturday 20 August 2016

CORY'S Shearwater off Seaton Beach

After the news of 3 Cory's off Seaton beach on the evening of the 19th I had intended to get there early the following morning, but unfortunately that didn't happen. A late morning visit yielded views of 2 distant large Shearwaters; these were either Great or Cory's but the views were untickable either way. Roger and Dave (Chard birders) were there at the time and had had a total of 11 Cory's earlier in the morning; these were likely a few repeat sightings of the same few birds but may not have been. Interestingly there were no reports of Cory's to our East i.e. Portland or to our West i.e. Berry Head. They all seemed to be around here (reports from West Bexington, Charmouth, Seaton & 1 at Orcombe).

After some lunch and some work emails I headed straight back down; Tim Wright was watching by this time - we had a few Manxies and lots of Gannets heading West. Shortly after other Tim left I finally had tickable views of a Cory's; one flew across relatively close (i.e. 400m or so), clearly a large Shearwater and gliding on bowed wings. I couldn't quite make out the pale/yellow bill due to the distance but the pale head, wings and flight pattern were all spot on and couldn't be anything other than Cory's - I still cross-referenced with Collin's, Britain's Birds and some video footage before being totally happy with it as my 'eye-in' time with sea birds is minimal. Shortly after this sighting I picked up a probable Balearic Shearwater but again the views weren't good enough to be confident. Interestingly Portland had 530+ Balearic through today!!!

After a successful afternoon I went home for dinner but soon fancied another go at a Cory's (I need to do more sea-watching anyway) so headed back out and had one more watch from 17:15 - 18:10. At 17:50 a Cory's did the decent thing and gave a close and prolonged fly-by, only a few hundred metres out before gradually drifting South. It gave a few nice turns showing the pale head and big yellowish bill very well. After the initial sighting of 2 large untickable Shearwaters during the first sea watch it was relieving to get good views in the end. It would have been easier if the first watch yielded the goods, but never-mind. The challenge now is to try and get some pics...

Other birds of note were c20 Common Scoter on the water during the last sea watch and singles of Little Stint & Knot on Black Hole Marsh.

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