Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Oban To Lochboisdale Ferry 12th August 2014, Not 1, Not 2, Not 3 but 4 New Species!!!

Hi, after having a bad night sleep due to My grandma having trouble breathing (snoring)! We were woken up at 8 and on the way towards Oban by 9. On the way we noticed large migratory flocks of swallows (60), and small pockets of House Martins (10). While driving between two pine woods I found a flying Great Spotted Woodpecker , showing off its undulating and characteristic flight. The best part of the drive however, was while driving round Loch Awe. "An Osprey" I shouted towards my Grandma, meaning stop I have to look! Unfortunately though a Range Rover was right up our backside preventing us from good views. Also my camera was in the back, how annoying!

Now we had reached Oban, the main ferry port of West Scotland and was searching around outside Tesco's but only managed to find a solitary Swift gracing the skies. After having a scrumptious Prawn platter from the docks we set sail on the "Lord of the Isles"...

Boarding the ship in the "Racing Skoda"!

After reaching the top of the ship with my Scope, Binoculars and trusty Collin's Bird Guide the journey had begun. Just something for you to remember, right at the start of the journey I stated: "We'll see Storm Petrels and Manx Shearwaters." My Granny grumbled... Just after getting past a small rocky outcrop I found three Eiders, 100+ Herring Gulls, 10 Lesser Black-Backed Gulls and 3 Hooded Crows.

Now I will skip to the good bit after getting past half of Mull we found 25 Shags and 15 Harbour Seals...
More Shags than first seems.

Fat Harbour Seals resting.

3 Gannets passing buy the boat.
As soon as we got outside of the Sound of Mull the temperature dropped (causing us to move into the cafe downstairs), rain came down and the seabirds took their turn... Our first signs of hope was when 15 Black-Legged Kittiwakes flew beside the boat then a couple of Fulmars. I felt it coming and coming the further out we got until... "Granny, look a Manxie!!!" Sure enough there were our first two Manx Shearwaters of the trip, slowly and gracefully bending their way round the waves. Furthermore a few dirtier looking Shearwaters pitched up from the sea, Balearics!!! Brilliant already two Shearwaters and the latter being a new species for me! I told Mama that we would find these, but still no Storm-Petrels....

Seconds after that a larger, darker flew up, thankfully by a Manx Shearwater to give us a scale in size...
Can you guess it yet?

There you are a large bulbous Sooty Shearwater following a Manx Shearwater closely.
How about that another Shearwater, fantastic, hey!? After playing around with my camera while recording (writing down our sightings) the birds I captured these two shots of a Gannet and Fulmar...
Fulmar arching.

Gannet flying right beside us.
So the day had already been good enough by anyones standards! But did the birds keep coming? Oh, yes they did! While looking at some Manx Shearwaters flying low across the ocean...

I decided to look at the ocean itself, in case there were Guillemots or Razorbills etc. I managed to find the first lots of Auks thankfully! But again, these weren't any old Guillemots they were Black Guillemots! Yet another tick (however, I didn't manage to get a pic!) Following on from them we found our first rafts of Common Guillemots on the sea, sadly ducking as soon as the picture was available. More and more Shearwaters, Fulmars and Kittiwakes past the boat, with Gannets becoming uncountable! More was in store though, as while we were watching the Manxies curve there way over the water a flock of eight birds weaved their way directly towards the boat! Ruddy Turnstones, migrating towards Tiree probably after breeding in Siberia. 

With all this excitement it was hard to concentrate on what's coming next! A small bird with flappy wings, whizzing along close to the Manx Shearwaters, A Storm-Petrel! Gosh, my fourth new bird of the day, would you believe it! In total I saw 5 of these!

One last thing, close to arriving at Lochboisdale I saw a Great Skua harrassing a Gannet and a few more Manx Shearwater pass by.

4 NEW BIRDS! Well soon it will become far more difficult to find a new one...

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