Wednesday 18 August 2010


I am very excited. Very. This coming weekend I am off to Cornwall, and the intention is to watch the sea for a bit. Then the plan is to get on a boat and bounce around on the sea for a bit, and once off, watch the sea again. Diversity is the spice of life. The watching the sea thing is called sea-watching, and you may recall that I am rather partial to a spot of it now and again. The forecast has been looking good, if not monster, all week, and the storm supposedly hits the south-west headlands on Thursday night and Friday morning. Which is where Hawky and I will be.

At almost exactly this time last year, I was writing of plans to go sea-watching. Flippantly I predicted that anyone joining me was guaranteed to see a Black-browed Albatross and a Fea's Petrel. As it happened, I didn't get either that weekend. But the following weekend......

Obviously I'm far too mature and considered to go on and on and on about the Fea's Petrel that I saw shear slowly west for over three minutes, and what an amazingly magnificent and extremely rare bird it is. If you really feel you need a good gripping, you can click here, as I for one won't be mentioning that Fea's Petrel again for at least the rest of this paragraph.

By God it was sensational! At the time I'm not sure that I appreciated quite how fortunate I was. Sitting here now, looking back, the chances of me seeing that bird, on only my second trip to Porthgwarra, were millions to one. There is jam, and then there is jam. This counts as the latter kind of jam. The very jammy kind.

The target bird that needs talking-up this time is Cory's Shearwater. A far more modest request to the Birding Gods I feel. We're booked to go on a small-boat pelagic on Saturday morning, but in all likelihood it will be cancelled due to the weather front coming through. If by some miracle it goes ahead, I'd like to petition for a Wilson's Petrel. And for not being sick.

I've not been on any kind of meaningful boat trip since the Scillonian III pelagic in 2008, which was before I inflicted this blog on the world. It would have been an impressive rant, as the trip was truly awful. I saw two Great Shearwaters and a stack of Storm Petrels, however I mainly remember the trip for different reasons. Carroty ones that I would rather not dwell on. As I staggered off, I fervently said that I wouldn't ever be going on a boat again. It has taken two years for the memories to fade, and even now I have serious doubts about the wisdom of Saturday's pelagic, especially when Pterodromas can so easily be seen from land. Ahem.


  1. Will be on the same pelagic on Saturday! I hope for both our sakes, its calm and there are Wilson(s). Although so far none have been seen from the Pelagics :-(

  2. See you there, and if not, Porthgwarra!

  3. Did you rule out Zino's and Soft-plumaged Petrel?

  4. Yes, instantly. Just beyond the Runnelstone, the bill appeared huge....

  5. Hi Jonathan, can you give me a call at the shop some time? I tried emailing but the BF emailer is blocked. Steve Rogers.