Monday, 12 December 2011

Great Skua from St Kilda wintering in English Channel off South Devon
I had a speedy response to yesterday's Great Skua sighting 30nm off Start Point.

The bird was ringed by Will Miles (of Leach's Petrel fame, if you subscribe to British Birds).

Will replied with the following interesting information on the bird:

"This is definitely one of mine, and the first ever record of one away from Kilda - totally brilliant! A live wintering at-sea record is particularly rare for these guys - so many thanks again. This fella is actually the second bird I ever ringed on Kilda. It is White/White (L) Red/White (R), ringed on Hirta on 22nd May 2007 as an adult (wing 441mm, weight 1510g, head&bill length 108.5mm). It nested every year on Kilda that I was there (2007-10) with only two other pairs on 'Mullach Sgar', quite a remote location away from the main colony in Glen Mor. Also, if I remember, the pair had rather a taste for Leach's Petrels too !"

Sunday, 11 December 2011

10th DECEMBER, 2011
English Channel 30nm SSW off Start Point, Devon
Out on a fishing boat, a few interesting bits and pieces mid-channel. Two groups of Common Dolphins. Up to 15 wintering Bonxies around the boat, one carried colour rings (so awaiting some feedback on this bird as to where it was ringed); see photo below - left leg double white, right leg red over white. There were far more large gulls foraging around the boat than normal, mostly Herring, Great and Lesser Black-backs and good numbers of Kittiwakes. Fulmar numbers have picked up again and there was one dark phase (a dark as opposed to a double dark). Best bird was a cracking dark morph 1w Pomarine Skua, though sadly I have no photos as it disappeared soon as I waved a camera!
Below photos of colour ringed and unringed Bonxies and 'dark' Fulmar

Wednesday, 7 December 2011


2 Harbour Porpoise past West Bexington
Reported by Mike Morse

1 Bottlenose Dolphin at the entrance to Brixham Harbour.
Reported by Penny Robson

26TH NOVEMBER & early DECEMBER, 2011

Killer Whale (Orca) spotted off Cornwall on several occasions around Newquay and Padstow, including 2 seen on the 26th November from Trevose Head, near Padstow.

Sunday, 27 November 2011


Great Northern Diver, 1 mile off West Bay

Thursday, 17 November 2011

16th NOVEMBER, 2011
English Channel 20-30nm SE of Start Point,Devon
Yesterday from on a fishing boat: 12+ Great Skuas, 1 Pomarine Skua (juv), 30+ Kittiwakes, Little Gull (1w), Mediterranean Gull (2w), several groups of Common Dolphin.

Kingswear, Devon
Single Bottlenose Dolphin (distinctive dorsal fin with top missing) in the mouth of the Dart estuary off Kingswear early morning.

Wednesday, 16 November 2011


Brittany Ferry survey. Caen – Portsmouth
Tom Brereton
Highlights included 185 Little Gulls, Mediterranean Gull, 2 Slavonian Grebes and 4 Sandwich Terns
Also reports (by the crew) of a 15m dead whale offshore in the area

Tuesday, 8 November 2011


2 Harbour Porpoise past West Bexington
Reported by Mike Morse

Saturday, 29 October 2011

28TH OCTOBER, 2011

Manx Shearwater seen flying West about 1 1/2 miles out of West Bay
Reported by Tony Smith.

Sunday, 23 October 2011

19TH OCTOBER, 2011

Approximately 14 Bottlenose Dolphin seen 1 mile off West Bay harbour.
Reported by Ivor Bending.

16TH OCTOBER, 2011

7 Bottlenose Dolphin 2 miles out of Seatown.
Reported by Tony Smith of Christine Anne.


A Dwarf Sperm Whale live stranded at Mounts Bay, Cornwall and was refloated. This is the first confirmed record of this species in UK waters. More details
A similar species, the Pygmy Sperm Whale stranded on the Isle of Seil in Scotland on 6th October. More details

Friday, 21 October 2011

20Th OCTOBER,2011
20nm SE of Start Point, Devon
Out on a fishing boat, still good numbers of Bonxies in the English Channel, with c30 around the boat. One Arctic Skua (pale phase adult), 2 Mediterranean Gulls (ads) in with numerous Kittiwakes, 2 Little Gulls (ad and 1w), 2 European Storm-petrels. Best of all a Leach's Storm-petrel passed by a distance, quite a white-rumped bird - I managed to get a couple of shots (see below). Also Common Dolphins feeding under Gannets and a shark sp. feeding on the surface. On the 16th the skipper of the boat saw 2 Risso's Dolphins while fishing in the same area.
Photos below: Leach's, Bonxies, Arctic Skua and Med Gull ©Mark Darlaston

Friday, 14 October 2011

12th OCTOBER 2011
English Channel - 20nm south of Start Point, Devon
A good day out on a fishing boat with 4 Common Dolphins briefly bow riding. Notable was a large movement of Bonxies through the channel, we had up to 40 around the boat at anyone time, so I probably saw in excess of 6o during the day. One bird carried an orange ring (on left leg) and a logger and would be a bird breeding on either Foula or Hoy being monitored by the University of Glasgow. Only when the data is download next breeding season with we know which Island as I was unable to read the number on the ring.

Other birds included this very interestingly plumaged Pomarine Skua. A very dark bird, with paler barred belly. Probably 4th cal-year as underwing almost as adult except for a hint of barring on axillaries, or perhaps advanced 3rd cal-year.

And also around the boat two Sooty Shearwater but only 3 European Storm-petrels seen.
Photos ©Mark Darlaston

Tuesday, 27 September 2011

26th SEPTEMBER, 2011
English Channel up to 30nm SE of Start Point, Devon
Seen from boat while fishing: Sooty Shearwater, 5 Black Terns, 15+ Great Skuas, 10 Common Terns, 'Blue' (dark) Fulmar in with 100+ light phase, 6 European Storm-petrels and juv Sabine's Gull. While heading back in 2 Balearic Shearwaters 5nm SE of Dartmouth.

Above, two different Black Terns

Above juv Common Tern ( quite a dark bird!)

Above Common Tern (immature 1s?) and juv Gannet (up close quite striking plumage)

Above Sabine's Gull juv. Photos ©Mark Darlaston
23rd SEPTEMBER 2011
Portland Survey
A Grey Phalarope and 2 Great Skuas were the only highlights during JNCC/MARINElife transect survey.

Grey Phalarope ©Kevin Lane

Sunday, 25 September 2011

Start Point, Devon
Seawatch 08:00-12:00, heading SW: juv Sabine's Gull (at 08:40), 5 Sooty Shearwaters, 37 Balearic Shearwaters, 2 Manx Shearwaters, 5 Bonxies, 8 Arctic Skuas, 2 Arctic terns, 8 Common Terns, 3 Black Terns, 9 Sandwich Terns, 472 Gannets, 38 Razorbills, 6 Guillemots, 2 Puffins & 25 Kittiwakes.


33 Balearic Shearwater on the Shambles Bank off Portland Bill.
Report by Chris Caines.


A 7.5m Northern Bottlenose Whale stranded at Beg-Meil, in Fouesnant, France.

26TH AUGUST, 2011

Berry Head, Seawatching 0830-1030hrs:
469 Manx Shearwater, 1 Balearic Shearwater, 2 Yellow-legged Gull (juveniles), first independent juvenile Herring Gull (8) also passing headland today, 3 Arctic Skua, 1 Common Tern, 1 Sandwich Tern, 17 Common Scoter, 54 Kittiwake, 50+ Gannets. Also 2 Common Dolphin 0840-0945hrs & 2 Harbour Porpoise 0910-0915hrs
Report by Mike Langman

Thursday, 22 September 2011

English Channel 20nm south of Start Point, Devon
From a fishing boat: at least 6 Sabine's Gulls (5 juvs, 1 adult), Little Gull juv, 3 Sooty Shearwaters, Balearic Shearwater, 15+ Great Skuas, 10+ European Storm-petrels, 150+ Fulmar (including some interesting birds, will do a separate post on these later). A few photos for now!

from top to bottom, Great Skua, Balearic Shearwater (x2), adult Sabine's Gull, juv Sabine's Gull (x3), juv Little Gull (x2) ©Mark Darlaston

Monday, 19 September 2011

16th SEPTEMBER 2011
Berry Head, Devon
63 Balearic Shearwaters following one returning trawler and 54 behind another (normally 8 is a good count doing this!). Also Sabine's Gull, Black Tern, Arctic Tern

15th SEPTEMBER 2011
Lyme Bay Survey
132 Balearic Shearwaters (only 2 Manx Shearwaters) and 9 Harbour Porpoise were the highlights during JNCC/MARINElife transect survey of western Lyme Bay.
Balearic Shearwater ©Kevin Lane

This follows an incredible run of Balearic Shearwater records off Devon, where the Devon record has been broken numerous times this September - the larger counts as follows:

14th SEPTEMBER 2011
Dawlish Warren / Orcombe Point, Devon
c200 Balearic Shearwaters (still feeding).

13th SEPTEMBER 2011
Prawle Point, Devon
81 Balearic Shearwaters west

12th SEPTEMBER 2011
Start Point, Devon
383 Balearic Shearwaters (new Devon record!), 14 Sooty Shearwaters and 1148 Manx Shearwaters heading SW.

Dawlish Warren / Orcombe Point, Devon
229 Balearic Shearwaters

11th SEPTEMBER 2011
Orcombe Point, Exmouth, Devon
376 Balearic Shearwaters (short-lived Devon record!). Though there may be circulation of birds here.

Budleigh, Devon
250+ Balearic Shearwaters

Dawlish Warren, Devon
220 Balearic Shearwaters

Seaton, Devon
77 Balearic Shearwaters

Chesil Cove, Dorset
140 Balearic Shearwaters

10th SEPTEMBER 2011
Orcombe Point, Exmouth, Devon
100+ Balearic Shearwaters.

6th SEPTEMBER 2011
Berry Head, Devon
304 Balearic Shearwaters heading S (short-lived Devon record! Previous was 145).

Start Point, Devon
238 Balearic Shearwaters heading SW.

Prawle Point, Devon
160 Balearic Shearwaters heading W.

5th SEPTEMBER 2011
Berry Head, Devon
Several thousand feeding shearwaters out in Lyme Bay, most Manx, but a sample count of c1000 closer birds indicated 6% Balearic Shearwaters (so there could be 300+ out there).

Sunday, 4 September 2011

3rd SEPTEMBER 2011
Start Point , Devon
The Balearics have arrived! Seawatch 10:45-19:00 surprisingly good for the SeaWatchSW target species, especially late pm, heading SW were : 101 Balearics Shearwaters (strongest passage 14:00-19:00 when 90 past, also one very pale bird on underside with white into undertail coverts, although Balearic on structure), 13 Sooty Shearwaters, 1 large shearwater (most likely great), 1192 Manx Shearwaters, 1 Bonxie, 1 Arctic Skua, 12 Whimbrel, Common Scoter, 2 Puffins, 2 Sandwich Terns, 6 Common Terns, juv/1w Yellow-legged Gull.

2nd SEPTEMBER 2011
Sea area off Portland , Dorset
11 Balearic Shearwaters, 55 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Fulmars, 3 Bonxies, 47 Gannets, 13 Herring Gulls, 18 Great Black-backed Gulls and 2 Guillemots during JNCC/MARINElife transect survey.

Saturday, 27 August 2011

26TH AUGUST, 2011
English Channel 13-20nm South of Start Point, Devon
From a fishing boat: 2 Great Shearwaters, Sooty Shearwater, 3 Black Terns, 5 Common terns, Yellow-legged Gull juv/1w, 10+ European Storm-petrels, 3 Bonxies. Two groups of Common Dolphins.

Great Shearwater ©Mark Darlaston

Monday, 22 August 2011

22ND AUGUST, 2011

3 Risso's Dolphin seen at French Banks, Lyme Bay

20 Dolphin sp. (including one calf) seen 2 miles off Sea Town. Reported by Skipper Tony.

1 dead Comorant floating off Dog Cliff/Thorncombe Beacon. Reported by Simon Miles

Tuesday, 16 August 2011

16TH AUGUST, 2011
Berry Head, Devon
Seawatching 0600-1300hrs:
53 Pomarine Skuas of mixed ages most with short spooned tailed but several with full spoons, largest single group 8 (remarkable passage for Aug), 31 Arctic Skua, 21 Bonxie, 66 Balearic Shearwaters, 402 Manx Shearwaters, 1 Sooty Shearwater, 1 Little Gull, 721 Kittiwake (inc 61 juvs), 39 Common Tern 5 Sandwich Tern, 748 Gannets, 24 Fulmar. 22 Common Scoter and Harbour Porpoise. Mark Darlaston, Mike Langman and Dave Norman.

Immature Pomarine Skuas ©Mark Darlaston

Monday, 15 August 2011

13TH AUGUST, 2011

Albatross sp. reported off Porthcurno by Nicky Morse, skipper of Viking, Penzance

14TH AUGUST, 2011
West end of Lyme Bay off Devon
From a fishing boat.
About 11nm off Start Point one Sooty Shearwater and 3 European Storm-petrels otherwise pretty quiet.

Sooty Shearwater ©Mark Darlaston

Heading back, about 1nm off Dartmouth large feeding frenzy of Gannets with c1000 Manx Shearwaters (no Balearics seen) and a couple of Bonxies.

Manx Shearwater ©Mark Darlaston

Sunday, 14 August 2011

14TH AUGUST, 2011

Sand Bay, Weston Super-Mare
1 stranded Harbour Porpoise

Thursday, 11 August 2011

9TH AUGUST, 2011
Lynmouth, Devon
A Fin Whale st
randed on the North Devon coast. As the animal was well preserved it may have only been dead for a day or two. 

3RD AUGUST, 2011
30-40 Dolphin Sp.,1 mile south of Seaton, Devon, 5-10 Harbour Porpoise 11 miles south of Seaton. Sithing reported by John Wallington, skipper of Outcast.

1ST AUGUST, 2011
5+ Common Dolphin at 11am and 29+ at 11.45, 2 km offshore west of Longships lighthouse, feeding. 5 Harbour Porpoise. Sighting reported by Kathryn Driscoll. 
29TH JULY, 2011
Marinelife/Naturetrek Evening Pelagic from Weymouth Quay 16:45hrs - 19:45hrs. F2 SE. Seastate 1-2. Warm, but overcast with some light drizzle at times

CORY'S SHEARWATER 1, Manx Shearwater 2, Arctic Skua 1, Northern Fulmar 1, Gannet 51, Common Tern 2, Kittwake 10, Yellow-legged Gull 1, Common Scoter 1F, Cormorant 2, Shag 1, Great Black-backed Gull 32, Herring Gull 132, Auk spp. 1

JULY, 2011 
Land's End
29th 1 Basking Shark at 11am

27th 5 Harbour Porpoise

20th 8 Harbour Porpoise, 3 Basking Shark, 6 Common Dolphin

13th 1 Harbour Porpoise

12th 8 Harbour Porpoise, 6 Common Dolphin, 3 Basking Shark

11th 26+ Common Dolphin and 8 Harbour Porpoise

2nd 50+ Common Dolphin

1st 25 Common Dolphin
Sightings reported by Kathryn Driscoll.