November 2023

18th-21st. Seawatching of the Island, St Ives. Winds changed from westerlies, to north-westerlies, then finally northerlies. No rarities, but a good selection of birds including 3 diver species, 3 shearwater species (20 sooty shearwaters on both 18th and 19th) and 3 skua species. Seabirds typically give you one shot at identifying them, and are often distant. I'm finding skuas especially challenging. Lots of auks and kittiwakes were moving through.

Male kestrel on a lichen-covered rock.


Black redstart female or juvenile.

Black redstart

Eight razorbills and a guillemots.


Juvenile kittiwakes, showing varying degrees of marking.


I had good views of an adult Pomarine skua with a fish. The spoons are being moulted.

Pomarine skua.

The photos below aren't of my usual standard, and are mainly for my identification learning curve.

Pale phase Arctic skua adults.

Arctic skua

Two Arctic skuas in quick succession: pale phase (adult, moulting into non-breeding plumage with pale rump?), and a dark phase bird. The lack of tail projections suggests a juvenile.

Arctic skuas

The bulky, front-heavy profile and broad wings of this bird suggests Pomarine skua to me, maybe a non-breeding adult with the dark underwing?

Pomarine skua?

I'm pretty sure these are photos of the same bird given the time stamps. The tail streamers and narrow wings of the second image suggest Arctic skua, though I'm not sure about the first image which is more Pomarine-like in profile. Maybe one that's best left unidentified, or maybe there were 2 birds?


A dark phase bird with a bi-coloured bill. The shape is more suggestive of Arctic to me.


After Billy Nason's South polar skua being identified earlier in the autumn, I paid close attention to the great skuas that passed through. The first bird was photographed on 18th. The cinammon-toned plain under-body suggests it is a juvenile, though juveniles should not be in moult at this time? The bird is moulting secondaries, and there is a big gap between the primaries and secondaries of the right wing with either an outer secondary or an inner primary lost. The white blotches on the upper wing are indicative of moult also.

great skua

A second bird on the same day with more extensive upper wing blotching.


A bird on 20th with a gap in the secondaries. The underparts seem pale and cinammon-tinged again. Buff specking on the back.


Relatively close views of great shearwaters (2 on each of 18th and 19th).

Great shearwater

A gull on 18th - when I saw it I thought 'Iceland' but the bill on the photo suggests it is a glaucous gull. Scale is so difficult to judge with these seabirds!

Glaucous gull

12th. A mixed flock of about 20 siskins and redpolls at Ham Wall. Hundreds of cattle egrets flew to roost over Westhay, and large numbers of fieldfares were also moving.

5th. Slimbridge, with David Bullock. Two great white egret, a pink-footed goose, ca. 30 white-fronted geese, 3 spotted redshank, 750+ black-tailed godwit and ca. 10 ruff.

4th. Male green woodpecker on next door's lawn.

Green woodpecker

Green woodpecker

January 2023February 2023March 2023April 2023May 2023June 2023July 2023August 2023September 2023October 2023December 2023