Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Pelagic 27/06/11

Six miles south of St Mary's...

Last evenings pelagic was fairly quiet (largely due to 2 French trawlers attracting all the birds), though we did eventually see a single Wilson's Storm-petrel.

When this Wilson's appeared, the light for photography was rather poor 
This 3rd-cal. yr Northen Gannet was one of several that came in close to inspect the chum
Atlantic Northern Fulmars always show well
Will we ever see a Pacific Northern Fulmar on one of our pelagic trips? It's on our radar
A Blue Shark poses for the camera - that's Joe's underwater camera at the end of the pole, left
This is the same shark as pictured above. It has been tagged (below dorsal fin) and is about to be released. Thanks to the efforts of Paul Whittaker (above) and MV Sapphire skipper Joe Pender, over 200 Blue Sharks have been tagged in Scilly

Sunday, 26 June 2011

Blog stagnation...

Project update

As you may have noticed, there's been very little activity on our blog of late. This is entirely due to work on our forthcoming Multimedia ID Guide to North Atlantic Seabirds: Storm-petrels & Bulwer's Petrel. We are very much in the final stages of the project and anticipate that the manuscript will be with the printers early next week (typically a 4-5 week turnaround).

To add a little more detail - the book is over 200 pages long  and contains a wealth of original and in-depth ID material, has over 130 colour photographs (majority previously unpublished), over 40 stunning illustrations by Ian Lewington, large format, full-colour range maps (based on the latest research) and, most importantly, 2 DVDs, each with over 60 minutes of footage and informative narration.

The species covered are: White-faced Storm-petrel, Wilson's Storm-petrel, European Storm-petrel, Black-bellied Storm-petrel, 'white-bellied' storm-petrels, Band-rumped Storm-petrel, Leach's Storm-petrel, Swinhoe's Storm-petrel, Matsudaira's Storm-petrel and Bulwer's Petrel.

We will, of course, provide more detailed information (including sample pages from the book and clips from both DVDs) nearer publication, when we will also reveal endorsements for the guide written by (in alphabetical order) -

Steve N. G. Howell (Author & Senior Field Leader, WINGS Birdwatching Tours Worldwide)

Killian Mullarney (Artist, author of the Collins Bird Guide)

Magnus Robb (Author, Petrels Night and Day)

Hadoram Shirihai (Tubenoses Project & Extreme Gadfly Petrel Expeditions)

Thursday, 16 June 2011

Bryan's Shearwater...

The mystery Midway Shearwater now has a name. 

Details published in The Condor.


Check out the following links

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

Blue Shark Video

This is a short video of Blue Sharks under water before being tagged and released.

Pelagic 13/06/11

Wilson's Storm Petrel, six miles SE of St Mary's (Photo: Joe Pender)
Wilson's foraging; note yellow webbing between toes (Photo: Joe Pender)
Minke Whale showed well (Photo: Joe Pender)

Pelagic 06/06/11

Wilson's Storm Petrel, six miles SE of St Mary's (Photo: Joe Pender)

Caught on camera...

In crowd by Ashley Fisher

Scilly birder, John Purkiss, brought this photograph from The Guardian (Wednesday 8 June) to my attention.

Birders watching White-throated Robin in Doctor's Garden - that's me, fourth from right

Saturday, 11 June 2011

Search for the Fiji Petrel

Fiji Petrel is known from one specimen collected in 1855 on Gau Island, Fiji. It was not seen again for 130 years.

Since 1984 there have been a handful of reports of grounded birds drawn to the lights in the village on Gau.

Until 2009, there had been no confirmed at-sea sightings. See video below.

Wednesday, 8 June 2011

It had to happen one day...

White-throated Robin twitch by Ashley Fisher

Through pure luck, I happened to be visiting my mother in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, when my RBA pager mega alerted: Cleveland WHITE-THROATED ROBIN Hartlepool Headland... I could scarcely believe my eyes. I had longed to see this species in the UK for such a long time that I'd almost given up hope! Now there was one within an easy two hour drive... How fortuitous to be away from Scilly!

I needed to get there, and get there quick. There was one major problem, however - my car was stuck in Penzance, Cornwall, with 'technical' problems! Mmmm, what to do? I wasted much time trying to scrounge a lift; so much so that it became obvious I wouldn't make it until the morrow. Oh, the agony!

In the end I managed to persuaded mother that a long run in her car (a lovely little VW Polo TDI) would do it good. A quick pow-wow with the insurance company and the twitch was most definitely on!

I pointed the car in the direction of Cleveland and in a little over two hours, I was driving along Marine Drive, Hartlepool, not knowing exactly where to go. Suddenly, I came across Brett Richards and got the good news - access had been granted to the Doctor's Garden and the bird was showing well. All I needed to do was park-up and walk around the corner!

Some of the birders in the Doctors Garden (Photo: John Dempsey)

As soon as I entered the garden, it was obvious that the bird was in view. I peered between the heads of the assembled throng and there it was... one of the best birds I've seen for quite sometime! It was rather like an oversized female Red-flanked Bluetail, but with noticeably longer 'cocked' tail, longer legs and longer heavier bill. The upperparts were largely brownish-grey, as was the the head and the breast; the chin and throat were off-white, forming a fairly narrow, but distinct, throat patch. The flanks were an orangey colour. The tail, apart from being noticeably long, was contrastingly blackish. Through the telescope, the primaries and primary coverts looked quite heavily worn - suggesting a first-summer female (the remiges belonging to juvenile plumage).

White-throated Robin, first-summer female, Hartlepool (Photo: John Dempsey)

I'm sure all the birders who saw the bird today (07/06/11) will extend their thanks to Dr. Michael Reece for generously allowing access to the garden. The bird showed extremely well on the lawn and surrounding walls; favouring an area beneath a large tree in the far corner and an adjacent flower bed.

Check out this in-hand video by Paul Hindess

With this being the first ever twitchable White-throated Robin, viewing conditions yesterday were rather chaotic! A passing 'white-van-man' needed little persuasion to put up several sets of ladders enabling the assembled masses to peer over the wall - for a small fee! See video below.