Sunday, September 23, 2012

It's been a week of seawatching with little in the way of island-based excitement. Nine Red-throated Divers, three Black-throated Divers, two Great Northern Divers, 17 Sooty Shearwaters, seven Balearic Shearwaters, 29 Leach's Petrel, ten Pomarine Skuas, 68 Arctic Skuas, three Long-tailed Skuas, 56 Great Skuas, two Mediterranean Gulls, a Little Gull, a Sabine's Gull, a smattering of commoner terns and a Black Guillemot have all joined the commoner birds passing by. A big shearwater and a small shearwater both got the pulses racing for two lucky (or unlucky) observers, but we sadly didn't connect. Giselle's Melodious Warbler showed amazingly well and when re-trapped was found to have put on 20% of its body weight. It stayed a couple more days before departing on the clear night of the 18th. A brief flyover Hobby brightened our day on the 20th and yesterday morning a large pipit became yet another bird that got away. Silent as it flew over Rich and the South Tip, it was in the company of Goldfinch. The Goldfinches returned from the sea, but no sign of the pipit. The most intergalactic event of the period is documented here: but the chances of anything coming from Mars are a million-to-one. About the same chances of finding a BB rare on the South End.

With nearly 30 Leach's Petrels recorded at sea, it was no surprise when Rich found this little fella at the bottom of the Lighthouse during a passing squall. William Elford Leach was an expert in crustaceans and molluscs but also spiders, mammals and birds. He purchased a petrel such as the one above for the British Museum for the princely sum of £5 15s in 1819, and a year later Coenraad Temminck, of Stint and Lark fame, named it after Leach. Leach also purchased a Great Auk and its egg at the same time. This is the third Leach's Petrel we've caught at the Lighthouse in three years. (c) Richard Brown

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