Friday 8th August 2014

    Drove to Penzance this morning, to catch the Scillonian III to St Marys, Isles of Scilly.

   Amazingly quick turn around for me really. I started seeing photos on Twitter, from the Pelagics last weekend, and was beginning to go green! I have wanted to photograph Cory's Shearwater 'well', for years now. So on Tuesday 5th, i tweeted Bob Flood, to see if there were any spaces for this weekend, and he said there were. Now i was really thinking about booking the time off work! Then i received a Tweet from Rob Jones, saying am i interested in going, he had Pelagic fever, as he had just come back from Madeira! 'F*** it, I'm in!".

   Explanation over, back to the Ferry. We stood along the side of the ferry, as the end was full with tourists, and a few birders too. Started looking pretty good though, even from the harbour....we saw loads of Gulls out towards St Michaels Mount, a feeding frenzy! Then we saw why, there were some Common Dolphins & Harbour Porpoise out there feeding too.

  We started getting the birds just before Lands End really. A few Manx Shearwaters, and a Bonxie. Then a large fin was spotted, then i saw it, picked up the camera, and typically it never surfaced shy obviously! It was a Risso's Dolphin.....Someone spotted a Storm Petrel, and gave a yell. I think most people got on it. I then picked up a small Gull, but it was way off, another shout of Storm Petrel, and i took my bins off the Gull. OK, Storm Petrel number wheres that Gull, i was thinking maybe a Kittiwake, and we had not seen any yet! But, i was really hoping for a Sabines Gull. I picked it up again, as it went across in front of the ferry, SHIT!!! Im sure that was a Sabines. I gave a shout, and a couple of people heard me. Rob & I went across the other side of the ferry, and it was a juvenile Sabines Gull....brilliant. It turned to fly alongside the ferry, i got my camera, but it turned again and flew directly away from us. The last of the good stuff, was a Sooty Shearwater, but that was fairly distant too.

   Thats from the ferry, what will the Pelagic tonight be like?

   After the boring stuff was done, we were back on a boat, this time the Sapphire, with the birders for the Birders Pelagics. So it began. The first shout of "Cory's" soon went up, and then "Great Shear" too. I was beginning to think i had made the right decision for once.

Cory' Shearwater
   Cory's, Cory's, Cory' they were everywhere. Of course i was concentrating on trying to get photos, while others kept score.

Cory' Shearwater
Cory' Shearwater

   A Bonxie (Great Skua) came into the frame too...showed rather well too! Of course the Great Shearwaters were showing well too....

Great Skua
Great Sheawater
Great Sheawater
  A few Storm-petrels and the odd Sooty Shearwater were seen too. But, it was the Cory's that were keeping everyone busy. Then another Cory's shout. This time it was the right side, the sun was on it, as it banked away, i got a few shots, and it disappeared. I took a quick look at the shots, Shit! i have washed out the white underside, struck me this bird was REALLY white underneath. Oh well i must be seeing things, or just my crap photos.

   Then, as suddenly as the first time, the same bird was back. As i had washed it out, when i checked my pix, i had already changed the stop on my camera and should be ready, i got some shots as it flew towards us.......and then it did exactly the same again, banking alongside the boat! This time i got it, i hope????

   I did........I looked at my photos, thats better i thought. Hold on though, something not quite right here.

   By chance, as we had checked into the B&B earlier, i had got my Seabirds book out, and had looked at Cory's.........and Scopoli's Shearwater. I had pointed out the points to look for to Rob. Oh dear.....this has those features. So i walked up the boat to where Bob Flood was stood, to show him the pix, and ask what he thought. As i got to him, he was already looking at the back of another birders camera, having asked to see "that last Cory's". He had noticed it looked different, the first time it passed. The bird was whiter underneath, smaller...less bulky, with what looked like slimmer wings, also after looking on the cameras, it had a long slim bill...upto a 'normal' Cory's anyway. Now on the back of the camera, we could also see the 'white fingers' which edge the primary feathers....could it be?

'Possible' Scopoli's Shearwater
   We all agreed this would need to be looked at on a computer, not just the back of the cameras. But, it had all the features of a Scopoli's Shearwater, except there was only minimal, if any, 'fingering' on P10, this is supposedly the clincher. If it is proved to be the case, it will only be the second 'proven' sighting in the UK. The other was seen off of Scilly too.
'Possible' Scopoli's Shearwater

   So, at the end of the 'first' pelagic, we had seen.......not including the commoner stuff

200+ Cory's Shearwaters
40+ Great Shearwaters
4 Sooty Shearwaters
25+ Storm Petrels
4 Great Skuas
& best of all, a 'possible' Scopoli's Shearwater (we will all have to wait on the outcome of this one)

    We also had 4 Blue Sharks, 2 got landed, but 2 real big ones got away sadly. One was estimated at about 50lbs+, the other, even bigger at a massive 150lbs+. What a shame they got away, would have been really cool to see those on the boat! The Blue Sharks that are caught are tagged, as part of a survey, then released, to be caught another day........

    So, what a great decision, and a great start too.........i think you will agree.

    A really long day today, but roll on tomorrow.

PS   If anyone is interested in reading more about the 'possible' Scopoli's Shearwater, now being called a Scopory's (Scopoli's/Cory's), here is a link to the RBA website, and Bob Floods account. It makes good, interesting reading.

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