Saturday, 27 October 2012

Staring At The Sea



Standing on a cliff with a scope in my hand,
Staring at the sea,
Staring at the sand,
Staring down the barrel of a Leica
As the Puffins and Petrel fly right by ya.

Not quite the Cure but the title is apt. As it may be noticeable, I did not watch ‘the Valley’ today and opted for a Sea watch as the wind was blowing a hoolie with a force 9 northerly gale. Today I drove over to Grenham Bay Birchington to hopefully see some nice seabird movements. Arriving at 7.00am it wasn’t long before I was counting the Kittiwakes and at 7.40 I had the first of 2 Little Auks. I was watching my second Little Auk when Tim Hodge came alongside and gave me a start before he carried on to join Mike Buckland in Birchington, I was then joined by Steve Ashton and within minutes of him arriving we were watching a sill in plumage Puffin flying east quite close in (a very rare bird in Kent) and just before Steve arrived I’d had a Grey Phalarope taking the easterly path, again fairly close in although it did travel more out to sea as it went. Steve and I were then joined by Phil Parker and what must be the bird of the day flew east past us very close in, it was Storm Petrel a bird probably even rarer than Puffin in Kent, luckily Mike Buckland had seen it from his viewpoint in Birchington and Craig Sammels, Barry Hunt and Mark Chidwick caught up with it at Walpole Bay in Margate, a splendid track along the coast. Here is a list of what Phil, Steve and I noted between 7.00am and midday all going east unless otherwise stated:-
Kittiwake 72, Brent Goose 25 (12w), Guillemot 29, Tufted Duck 1, Little Auk 2, Gannet41 (11w), Great Skua (Bonxie) 6, Common Scoter 84 (5w), large Auk spp 7, Little Gull 3 (3w), Razorbill 7, Teal 4 (3w), Arctic Skua 2 (1 pale phase), Eider 2 drakes, Red-throated Diver 2, Grey Phalarope 1, Puffin 2, British Storm Petrel 1 and 8 Skylarks flew out to sea. Also noted were 30+ Sanderlings, Oystercatchers, Turnstones, 1 Purple Sandpiper, 2 Golden Plover west then south and 2 Goldfinches plus the usual Gulls and Cormorants. The camera never left the bag today although a couple of Skuas, Gannets and Auks did get close enough.


  1. Hi Martyn , now thats what i call a sea watch , excellent records of Stormy and Puffin .
    Cheers Rob.

  2. For me Martyn a great couple of hours spent on what was my first ever proper sea watch given that my other sea watch attempt at Reculver only lasted 10 minutes. Puffin was a Kent tick for me and Storm Petrel was a lifer. Great and prolonged views of it as you picked it up early and we were all able to watch it fairly close in as it flew across our field of vision. Thanks for a good morning.

  3. An excellent session Martyn, the Puffin being most notable in my book for which it still reads 'badly need'.

  4. it was a great day in must of heard are cheer when we got the petrel puffin was a good bird to super

  5. Some great stuff from you Guys today. Just shows what can happen if you make the effort. It was just too cold and too far for me to even consider it but glad to read of others success. Well done mate.