Saturday, 17 September 2016

Shearwater cruise aboard Yorkshire Belle

On the 17th of September we went on one of the RSPB's Shearwater cruises from Bridlington Harbour aboard the Yorkshire Belle. As the cruise was at 3:00 pm we had a day around Bridlington first. It was cloudy with a cold windy and the tide was out when we arrived and we walked around the harbour, me mainly birdwatching. I was pleasantly surprised that the Barnacle Goose that lives there with some mallards is not pinioned as I previously thought and is very able to fly. Turnstones, Redshank and various gulls were feeding on the mud. At least 25 Great Black-backed gulls, adults and juveniles, were under the pier where the fish is processed. There was a fight between some of them, while others did the long call, with a much lower pitch than Herring Gull's and displayed together. What an utterly awesome spectacle!

 After lunch, we walked along the pier. A handful of Purple sandpipers fed on some mussel-covered rocks exposed in the low tide, with Turnstones and a pair of Oystercatchers.
The view of the North beach from the pier with Flamborough in the horizon.
Purple Sandpiper.
Purple Sandpiper.
A few Kittiwakes sitting on the outside of the harbour wall. The little shelf provides enough space for them to nest and roost.
Adult Herring gull atop the pirate ship ticket office.
 And then it was time! The Yorkshire Belle arrived in the harbour (above) and soon we were settled and ready to go. There was a running commentary of birds seen from the deck.  Sandwich and Common terns were fishing not far from the shore. The first exciting moment was to watch Arctic Skuas chasing and mobbing terns into releasing their catch. Flocks of Scoters passed by. At some point a crew member started to drop some fish to the sea to attract shearwaters. We had some distant views of a Manx Shearwater, a first for me. The highlight was a Great Skua or Bonxie (top shot), who fed quite close to the boat with Herring Gulls and Great black-backed gulls.
I am quite awful at sea with seasickness, but still enjoyed the trip very much.
Common Scoter
Arctic Skuas
Arctic Skua.
Gulls gathering behind the boat.
The Great Skua was squabbling with some gulls here.
As we returned to Bridlington, more Kittiwakes had congregated to roost on the harbour wall.

More information
RSPB shearwater cruises with the Yorkshire Belle. Website.

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