Early this morning, I met my friend Hugh Wright for a bit of overland ‘seawatching’ from Ring’s End/Guyhirn. It is the one place I hope to see seabirds in the Peterborough area, being at the furthest east of the official Peterborough Bird Club (PBC) recording area (with 4 miles to the north which are still in the PBC area), on the River Nene (which flows into The Wash), but still some 20-odd miles fromThe Wash itself.
It sounds like a long shot, but in October 2008 I saw 3 Great Skuas and an Arctic Skua, from there (with my friend Brian H Stone). And in September 2018 my friend Will Bowell and I had a Gannet overhead.
So, Hugh and I found a bush to shelter beside on the north bank of the Nene and gazed out north with the NW wind blasting and freezing us in equal measure. We had a trickle of Golden Plovers and Snipe, and were greatly encouraged by the first Whooper Swans of the autumn heading south, and a Shelduck flying west, plus a couple of probable juvenile Arctic Terns; plus a skein of ddistant geese which were probably Pinkfeet, heading NE to The Wash.
But the best stuff came just after I spotted a Green Sandpiper in the distance. Hugh got on it with his scope, but noticed a dot beyond it. It was dot trying to power west across the wind. It was a very interesting dot. We watched it for more than 10 minutes, and it gradually got closer, as it powered west. Eventually, though still distant, we could see its shape, structure and flight style well enough to see it was a Bonxie, a Great Skua! I even saw the white wing-flashes a couple of times. Eventually, it decided that the fight wasn’t worth it and headed back to The Wash. Distant but superbly satisfying. PBC year tick number 175.
Totals were as follows:
Great Skua, 1,
Whooper Swan, 40 (groups of 14, 16, 5, 5),
Golden Plover, 90,
Green Sandpiper, 1,
‘Commic’ Tern (probably Arctic), 2,
Possible Pink-footed Geese, 46,
Marsh Harrier, 4,