Wednesday, October 18, 2017

Cuxhaven-Helgoland, seawatching again!

Several days of NW-storm caused a severe ocean swell, a trip to remember! On October the 6th the depart of the ferry from Cuxhaven was delayed several hours in hope for better weather, so we had some time for seawatching from the mainland. The Elbe is a famous trap for seabirds and even without telescopes we soon saw the first Leach's Petrel. Several other Leach's followed and we also saw some Arctic and Great Skuas before we left the harbour with the ferry.
Leach's Petrel in the Elbe-estuary

Only minutes after departure there was a petrel rather close to the ship, and it showed the typical flight of European Storm Petrel, which was soon confirmed by the pictures. Great start!
note the diagnostic white line on the underwing
the rather distinct upperwing pattern resembles Leach's but indicates this is a fresh immature plumage

At almost the same time a slender and dark skua appeared next to the ship, a dark phase Long-tailed! Soon afterwards both birds were also reported from mainland Kugelbake (but they must have distant views).
juvenile Long-tailed Skua. Note the small bill with long dark tip, the boldly striped underwing and uppertail
the very long and blunt central tail-feathers and contrasting undertail-coverts
and the white pattern on the upperwing is limited to only 2 primaries

Then we left the sheltered and shallow Wadden Sea. There was a severe swell with a wave height of 4-5 meters. For many people this was not good and chumming started:-) About halfway we saw several Arctic, Pomarine and Great Skuas and several Little Gulls.
Pomarine Skua

Pomarine Skua - same bird
same bird again

Arctic Skua
Arctic Skua - same bird

And then there were no birds anymore, until we entered Helgoland-harbour. The whole trip lasted about 4 hours.. More from the island soon.

immature Shag at the harbour-entrance

Monday, October 9, 2017

Autumn storm @Lauwersoog

Slightly delayed due to a Helgoland-visit; an impression of the storm last week.
Although Sabine's Gull was missing it was an excellent day with all 4 species of Skua and several Leach's Petrels.

I arrived rather late and started with a Gannet, always promising
And then there was a fine Long-tailed Skua, and it was rather close!

same bird, a light-phase juvenile
the Long-tailed was escorted by 2 Arctic Skuas
note the difference in colour tone
2 adults and an immature Pomarine Skua. I do not see often adult birds of the dark phase 
Leach's Petrel, normally they stay rather far out but this one was close; it flew over the road in front of me but then turned around to the sea again
same bird
brilliant birds!

Helgoland report soon, including more petrels, skuas and Red-breasted Flycatchers