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Sunday, 29 July 2018

Porthgwarra

Liam and I pulled up in the car park down in the cove shortly after 05:00 then trudged our way up to Hella Point in the pre-dawn. We were eager to secure a comfortable, sheltered position and the 03:00 alarm paid off as we claimed prime position behind the sheltering rocks. Anticipation was high as the rough sea came into blearly vision. It wasn't long before the first Great Shearwater came into view, and once the lights were fully on we were treated to a steady stream of shearwaters between squalls. Many were close in, with some of each species even visible with the naked eye.

Things went to another level when a shout came from the opposite end of the 25-strong crowd, declaring 'Fea's!'. I found it remarkably hard to compose myself, especially as we weren't hearing any kind of useful indication as to the bird's position or behaviour. Failing to get on the bird in a couple of wide and frantic scans, I resorted to getting on the Runnelstone (near the right-hand end of my view) and clapped eyes on the creature as it slided around the back of the buoy. However, our prime positioning next to the rocks backfired and I only got the most fleeting of views as it vanished out of view - just enough time for the bird to jar with my expected image of Fea's, but still fit well with a Pterodroma petrel. Just then, Martin Elliot started declaring to the crowd that it was a TRINDADE PETREL! It made sense from my extremely limited viewing time, and it did too to Liam - who had it for much longer than I did - and to everyone else present. Good descriptions and field sketches have now emerged online from observers who were lucky enough to be watching the bird for up to a minute as it passed.

It took a while to simmer down and re-focus on the seawatching as the shearwaters hadn't stopped going through! Indeed, it remained a busy watch till around 14:00 and we kept going till 18:00. My personal totals included 13 Cory's Shearwaters, 64 Great Shearwaters, 38 Sooty Shearwaters, 16 Balearic Shearwaters, 18 Storm-petrels, four Arctic Skuas, 10 Bonxies, 10 Mediterranean Gulls, four Kittiwakes, a Guillemot and good numbers of Manx Shearwaters. Shags, Gannets and Fulmars were of course also noted. Around the point was a showy juvenile Yellow-legged Gull, a Peregrine and a couple of Rock Pipits.

A day to remember...

Great Shearwater

Balearic Shearwater

Sooty Shearwater

Cory's Shearwater

Manx Shearwater

juvenile Yellow-legged Gull