Friday, 23 March 2012

The Ghibli

The last three days have seen us subjected to a rather awful SE wind, sweeping up from the Sahara. Known as a Sirocco (or Ghibli in Libya) It results in dry, dusty conditions along the north African coast, sometimes creates storms in the Med. and makes for unsettled weather in southern Europe. Although not too strong, at a steady 22-26 knots, it has been annoyingly breezy, (if I had hair it would be blowing in my eyes!). Although the sun is intense, conditions on deck have been uncomfortably cold and very very dry. My nose and throat feel ragged as though stuffed with wire wool and my exposed skin is sore from abrasion by the fine dust and sand particles suspended in the breeze. Feather wear in migrants must be considerable when they are exposed to such conditions!
I had thought the Ghibli would push a few migrants my way but the only birds seen over the last 72 hours have been 3 Blackcaps and these have stayed onboard catching flies and hiding out of the breeze. They   do appear rather reluctant to resume their northward passage despite the fact that we have come about and are now heading south again! Maybe more migrants are attempting to avoid these harsh conditions where possible and are hunkered down along the shoreline waiting for clearer air? On the seabird front I have recorded only 3 Great skuas and a distant Larus sp.
Being at sea, surveying seabirds, is normally a source of great pleasure- when there are birds to identify and count!- but when it is this quiet the days are tedious and very very long. I have found myself thinking of where I would like to be birding this weekend and top of my list is Portland Bill or Dungeness- trying to anticipate where those scarce migrants are going to turn up! 

One of our temporarily resident blackcaps caused me to do a double take this morning due to its' coloration - then I realised that it had been dust bathing and had gone for a very fetching 'Sahara pink' outfit. Perhaps it fancies itself as a bit of a Bullfinch!

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