Spring Sooty

A warm, dry and sunny day at Dungeness. With the spring passage all but over, we are now entering the time of the 'overshoot', whether that might be a Bee-eater, Swallowtail or Death's-head Hawk-moth. Time spent in the field becomes less of a concerted effort on birding, more an all-round immersion into the additional bounteous supply of plants and insects.

After a day spent mostly chasing butterflies and watching a family party of Stonechats, I arrived at the sea for an evenings watch. No expectations at all, but we are not too late for a tardy Pom or two. After half an hour little had happened, but then a close, tight flock of 40 Sanderling passed by, all smart summer-plumaged adults. After watching them leave eastwards through the scope, I was more than a little surprised to find a close Sooty Shearwater in my field of view when I returned to scanning the sea straight ahead. It was very leisurely, mooching about rather than moving through, but eventually left eastwards and then out to sea. My first spring record. 30 minutes later it returned, this time moving more meaningfully westwards. You can never write a sea watch off here...


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