Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Montrose, Angus.

Recently, with widespread violent storm force winds and perilous sea states throughout most of the British and Irish sea areas, my vessel, - like many others, ran for shelter in whatever harbours and inshore waters provided a safe haven. We obtained a berth in Montrose harbour for a few days before heading back out to Lunan bay, followed by further weather standby time in St. Andrews bay when the wind veered to a more southerly direction. I took the opportunity to enjoy a few hours birding around Montrose- primarily along the stunning beach but also a few hours around the excellent Montrose basin. Winter birding highlights included a dozen or so grey plover, a handful of very smart sanderling, tree sparrows, yellowhammers, purple sandpipers and in St Andrews bay a very nice raft of circa 40 little auks and 4 velvet scoters. At a personal level it was quite satisfying being able to boost my BTO 'bird track' year list to 75 species- a very small consolation for missing my much needed Ivory gull- that has been frequenting my local home patch for some time- hmmm- I wonder if it will stick until I will be able to get home and catch up with it? - probably not. 

grey plover
grey plover
Montrose basin

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Lunan Bay, Angus.

With Beaufort storm- force 10 winds and potentially dangerous sea states forecast for much of the North sea, our vessel left the Forties field for the shelter of Lunan bay in Angus, just south of Montrose. As soon as I heard the location of our refuge I had a smile on my face with the prospect of a couple of days spent on the deck working through flocks of scoters and watching auks and divers. Unfortunately the only flocks of scoter were a couple of miles closer to the shore so I had no chance of picking out a rarity! I have not seen a single diver during the 3 days spent in the bay and assume that they too are closer inshore. From a birding perspective I have consoled myself with seeing a handful of little auks and two sightings of a dark morph arctic skua- both good birds to get on my fledgling year list that now stands at a very unimpressive 14! At least it will get a boost once I'm back ashore. The only other sighting of interest has been a couple of close passes by the resident bottle-nosed dolphins. The weather seems to have moderated significantly overnight and we will soon be heading back offshore- at least until the next Atlantic depression stirs things up again!