27 Jul 2009

Stormy Conditions at Killard NR bring in the Arctic Skuas

In the past few days there has been a strong southerly wind coming up the Irish Sea. This is when it is great to go out to Killard as the sound of the waves crashing on the rocks is awesome. It is conditions like these that you can on occasion get to see Storm Petrels feeding in the outer surf and Manx Shearwaters can come in quite close. There is also the chance of seeing Arctic Skua mobbing the Terns to get their catches.

On Saturday I was out there and unfortunately was texting a friend when an Arctic Skua flew directly over my head and out towards Kearney on the side of the entrance into Strangford Lough. I didnt notice it until it was flying away so only got a distant shot. I then watched it for about 20 minutes mobbing both Terns and Gannets.This was an Adult pale morph bird.(I stand to be corrected though)

This is the view on a calmer day from Killard towards Kearney on the Ards Peninsula taking in the Tower on the Angus Rocks at the entrance to Strangford Lough.

On Sunday I was out again and there were quite a few Gannets here is one with the Isle of Man in the background.

There are also quite a few Sandwich Terns that fly south of Killard to collect fish to take back to their chicks in Strangford Lough. This is one heading South

and this one is heading back North after a successful catch.

On this occasion I didnt go onto the beach as the waves were pretty big and my dog just runs straight into the sea so walked behind the beach where I saw a couple of Wheatear. I couldn't get that close to them. I then headed to a little sheltered spot where I have a makeshift seat from driftwood from which to scan the sea. It was from here that I saw over a period of an hour hundreds of Manx Shearwater flying by and two Storm Petrels. They are quite hard to get onto and as the waves were fairly big one minute you see them and the next they are in the trough.They are the same size as a Wheatear only about 15cms long.

This has to be one of my favourite spots in Northern Ireland.

1 comment:

Patience said...

Beautiful pictures!